Tips for Caregivers of Parkinsons Patients

Dealing with long-term degenerative effects, and the probable loss of independence resulting from Parkinsons disease can be emotionally and physically overwhelming for the person with the disorder, but the family or primary caregivers of Parkinsons patients also suffer.

With most countries having only limited assistance for people suffering from debilitating illness, care giving frequently falls to family members. Devoting time to the needs of a loved one is a kind and noble act, but also has its negative consequences. The following tips for caregivers of Parkinsons patients may you can make the best of a difficult situation.

• Dont neglect to take care of yourself while taking care of your loved one. Its easy to get so wrapped up in looking after someone else that your own needs get disregarded. Save some personal time each day to treat yourself to a cup of tea, a good book, exercise or a relaxing walk.

• Hook up with a local community support group. Many organizations offer formal assistance and resources to caregivers, while others are an invaluable source of advice (based on experience!) and information.

• Be realistic. Parkinsons affects mobility, and older people in particular may not be able to traverse their homes or function as easily as they once did. Look for ways to increase safety and help the person with Parkinsons maintain their independence: install grab bars and a seat in the bathroom, add foam curlers to toothbrushes, spoons, and razors to make them easier to hold. Place non-slip runners on slippery floors.

• Parkinsons can also affect memory, so label drawers, cupboards and shelves with large-size labels in order help your loved one find household items on their own.

• Eat well and get daily exercise. Both caregiver and care recipient will benefit. Exercise need not be strenuous to be effective. Walking, stretching, or water exercises are excellent strength and mobility builders. Parkinsons patients should also engage in facial and jaw exercises to stimulate muscle movement there.

• Take advantage of respite care when available. Care giving is often a 24/7 job. It is important to take a break once in a while.

You might have done all you can to make your loved ones environment safe and organized, but there is another element that needs to be addressed: the emotional impact of care giving. The person with Parkinsons probably does not like having to depend on someone else for simple tasks that they used to be able to handle independently. This frustration can manifest itself in crankiness or resentment. Try to keep in mind that the aggravation is aimed at the disease, and not at the caregiver.

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