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4 Critical Tips For Parkinson's Caregivers | Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

May 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Montclair and Hasbrouck Heights

Certain conditions frighten many older adults, as their diagnosis may feel like the end of the world. These conditions tend to be non-curable and progressive, and are so complex to treat that next to nothing works.

One of these diseases is Parkinson’s. With no known cure and no effective treatment to cure or stop the disease as of yet, many Americans find themselves unprepared for their diagnosis. Not only that, but their caregivers also feel at a loss.

Don’t be discouraged - you can still give your loved one a high quality of life, even with the disease. Here are a few tips to accomplish that:

1. Find a Specialist

When your loved one becomes diagnosed with Parkinson’s, don’t just wait around for the disease to progress. Take them to a specialist right away, particularly one that focuses on movement disorders, to help give your loved one some exercises to do at home and professional recommendations.

This is very important to do, as focusing on your senior’s mobility problems from the start can help to keep them safely on their feet as long as possible.

Additionally, this specialist will be able to help introduce new information and physical exercises at each stage of the disease to best cater to their current needs.

2. Learn More about the Disease

Many caregivers who deal with progressive conditions aren’t mentally or physically prepared for the changes these diseases may bring. This includes anything from cancer to, yes, Parkinson’s.

However, keeping yourself educated on the disease may help you to notice important signs, anomalous symptoms, the progression from one stage to another, and keep up to date with new treatments and medications.

Just remember that this condition can change rapidly. One day, your loved one may be able to brush their teeth just fine, and the next, they can barely keep a grip on the toothbrush. This is not them being stubborn – it is their disease changing their abilities.

3. Be Helpful, but Don’t Baby Them

This being said, just because the disease results in physiological changes does not mean you need to do absolutely everything for your loved one.

In fact, doing so may strip them of their independence even faster than just the disease itself would.

It’s important to foster their autonomy and let them continue to do the things they still can do. Be there to support them and fill in the gaps, so to speak – to help in the spots they’ll need it.

4. Find Your Sources of Support

Perhaps you’re thinking, my sources of support? Why would I need sources of support when it’s my loved one who has Parkinson’s?

Caregivers need more support than most people realize. It is a tough job to do, especially for a senior who has a progressive condition like Parkinson’s. Having people to talk to and professional resources can help you to take a break, recharge your batteries, get your personal to-do’s done and overall helps prevent you from getting burnt out. How can you provide care to someone who really needs it when you’re too burnt out to even care for yourself?

There are multiple forms of support you can use, such as:

  • A friend to simply vent to over coffee or on the phone
  • A support group with other Parkinson’s caregivers
  • Respite care, in which another relative or formal caregiver comes and takes over your duties for a period of time. Many nursing homes also offer this service so you can drop your loved one off there

These tips will help you to be a proactive, effective caregiver. And remember, find support for yourself, too – it will help you be the best caregiver you can be!

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