Tremors, poor balance, even rigid movements can indicate that your loved one could have Parkinson’s disease. This condition is known to worsen over time. Their symptoms can make simple activities quite difficult. Seeing them experience the effects firsthand can make your heartache. Since this is a progressive disease, the best thing you can do for them to help them preserve their independence while boosting their quality of life.
It can be tricky to know what kind of support you should offer. Some days, they need help doing activities of daily living. Other times, they want to be left alone and given enough time to be independent.
To help you navigate your new role, here are some tips to make your life as a caregiver easier.
Continuously Educate Yourself
It is difficult to tend to someone’s needs if you don’t fully understand their condition. With Parkinson’s disease, their symptoms, the incidence, even the severity can vary each day. Ongoing education is a must to keep yourself updated with the latest information regarding Parkinson’s disease. It helps if you can educate yourself by closely observing your loved one so you can detect if there are subtle changes in how they feel or move to provide them with better assistance.
Your loved one might not be aware of their condition’s progression. As their caregiver, you ought to know when their condition gets worse when it all started, and the best ways to help support them. Know that it takes skill and patient to fully support someone battling this condition.
The first step is to talk to their healthcare provider and ask your questions directly to them. Keep them updated with any new symptoms and ensure their doctor that you are doing your best to help improve their quality of life.
You also need to learn about their treatment options. Their doctor may recommend your loved one to visit one of the local facilities offering neurological rehabilitation to people with Parkinson’s disease. With a personalized treatment approach, your loved one can maintain their quality of life.
Take Part in Their Care
Just because your loved one now has Parkinson’s disease, this already meant they could no longer effectively tackle daily life activities. In reality, they only need your patience and, sometimes, support to help them maintain their freedom and autonomy.
Here’s how to play a role in their care while still letting them live an independent life.
- Serve fiber-rich food to avoid constipation. Serve soft, moist food if they have trouble swallowing. Small frequent meals may be better for them.
- Provide them with grooming essentials to make grooming easier. Think of electric toothbrushes and electric shavers as examples.
- Give them a stool they can sit on while taking a shower. Ensure there are enough grab bars inside the bathroom as much as possible, use a hand-held shower to make it easier for them to clean themselves up
- Get them an absorbent robe so that they won’t need to dry themselves with a towel.
- Prepare clothes that are easy to put on. This includes clothes with elastic waistbands, button-up shirts with the buttons replaced with Velcro, or modified clothes with dressing aids. Allow them to put on their clothes and patiently wait for them to ask for your help before step in.
- Encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. Find activities they enjoy doing and invest in specially adapted tools if needed. Find activities that calm their nerves, so they can reduce their stress levels and ease tremors.
Be Realistic About Your Needs
There are times when you can’t be with your loved one 24/7. They might need help going to their doctor’s appointments or running some errands. You might need to work outdoors, but you are not comfortable leaving them alone at home.
You might even be feeling the stress that comes with being a caregiver. They might be undergoing financial strains, and you are greatly affected by this. There can be times when you feel guilty for needing and wanting to take a break, knowing your loved one needs you.
You must be realistic when it comes to your own needs. There is no shame in seeking help either from the pros or your other loved ones. There are no reasons to do this all on your own when many people are willing to help you.
Explore your options and build your own support network. Aside from your loved ones and the pros, consider joining a support group. They can help you by listening to your worries, help you get through the difficult days, or even allow you to take a break when needed.
Caregiving is no easy feat. It is easy to hover, feel overprotective of your loved one, and constantly worry about their condition. It is normal to feel stressed out due to your new role. But know that you are not alone. There are ways you can make it through this challenging phase, and you can use this list as your guide.