Parkinson’s: 6 Tips to Help Your Loved One (And You) Cope

It’s not easy to be a caregiver to a loved one with Parkinson’s disease. You are constantly keeping track of doctors’ appointments, medications and new ways to slow the progression of the disease, as well as providing attention and support. Understandably, it may also feel like you are putting other elements of your life on hold to be a full-time caregiver.

With that in mind, the team at The Shores, an assisted living community in Cape May County, NJ, wants to make your caregiving journey easier with tips on how you and your loved one can cope.

1 – Keep learning. Use informative resources to keep learning about Parkinson’s disease, so that you can better understand the condition, its symptoms and how it progresses. This will help prepare you for changes in your loved one’s care needs and behaviors, so you can manage them more effectively. In addition to talking to your loved one’s doctors and specialists, read about the condition through reputable websites like the Mayo Clinic, the Parkinson’s Foundation, and Parkinson’s News Today. These resources will also have the latest news and updates on Parkinson’s disease management.

2 – Accept that you’re not perfect. A diagnosis like this one will turn anyone’s world upside down and can push you into a position that you never prepared for. Everything about your life changes, and with that comes stress and responsibility to deal with. While you’re going to have to adapt significantly, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for any inevitable missteps. Lean on your resources, adapt your daily routines accordingly, and don’t be too hard on yourself – you are only human.

3 – Don’t go at it alone. Don’t try to take on every caregiving role, situation and need yourself. It’s hard enough to navigate your own life, and adding the responsibility of being a sole caregiver can quickly become overwhelming, especially in later stages. Bring people you trust into your fold, whether it’s neighbors, friends, family or support groups. It takes a village to cope with such a life-changing diagnosis. The needs that arise as a result of Parkinson’s disease, along with taking on too much work is a surefire way to burnout. Your needs matter too. Ironically, you need to prioritize your self-care first, in order to be a well-balanced caregiver to someone else. 

4 – Get organized. Being organized helps reduce frustration and stress as a caregiver, and helps ensure your loved one gets the right care. Develop a system for storing and referencing your loved one’s medical notes, insurance information, health records, appointments, and contact details for doctors and specialists. Track all their medications, as well as how they are being administered. Get to know their medical insurance policy inside out. This folder should go with you to all appointments, so that you can make informed decisions without having to go back and forth searching for the most recent information.

5 – Know yourself and your limits. One of the most important factors in providing quality care to a loved one is keeping an eye on your own well being. Knowing when you are reaching your own limits as a caregiver is critical to avoiding burnout, and will give your loved one the most high quality care. Too many caregivers neglect themselves while caring for a loved one, which can cause your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships with others to suffer.
Learn to recognize symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and illness within yourself, and take the necessary time off to help yourself get back to a healthy space. This can mean letting other family members help out more, calling in a local respite caregiver, or committing to 24-hour care in an assisted living community.

6 – Make space for joy, love and happiness in your relationship. A Parkinson’s diagnosis is devastating to both you and your loved one, and as their care needs progress, the nature of this condition can let negative emotions flood in. However, it’s important to make space for as much joy and happiness as you can in your relationship. Enjoy activities together as much as you can, whether it’s going for a walk outdoors or helping your loved one get dressed. Relive happy memories, watch your favorite movies together, keep them involved in their favorite hobbies as much as possible, and just make those quality moments together count. The best advice we can give is to treasure their drive to keep living life to the fullest, when it’s there.

Let United Methodist Communities help make every moment count

The Shores is an assisted living community in Ocean City, NJ, that’s designed to provide professional, compassionate care to seniors that promote their independence and quality of life. With 24-hour specialized support available to residents with Parkinson’s disease, your loved one will have the care and space they need to enjoy quality time with family and friends.

If you are seeking assistance as a caregiver of a loved one with Parkinson’s, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, or visit our website at: https://theshores.umcommunities.org/