How New Parkinson’s Caregivers Can Help Their Loved Ones Through This Illness
If you are helping care for a loved one who has been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, the responsibility of helping them through this difficult time can be overwhelming to stay the least. There is still so much to learn about this progressive condition, and there is still not a cure for this disease. One of the most interesting things about Parkinson’s disease is that it is actually different for everyone, so as a caregiver, you need to be focused on what you can do for your loved one’s individual journey with this disease.
Here are just a few of the things that new caregivers can do in order to make the best out of their journey with this difficult disease.
Join Support Groups
Parkinson’s Disease is such a difficult condition and it is one that can completely change a person’s life from the moment they are diagnosed. This is why support groups are so important. Caregivers should consider joining their own support group of other Parkinson’s caregivers, while individuals with this disease can have support groups of their own. A strong community of supporters is a great thing to have as you start on this journey.
Get Yourself Organized
Being a Parkinson’s disease caregiver requires a lot of planning and dedication. There will be numerous medications, different therapies that come with different changing symptoms and lots of doctor’s appointments. Get yourself a planner right away and try to stay as organized as possible, it will make all of the new demands and responsibilities that come your way easier to handle.
Help Your Loved One Exercise
Exercise has always been a common recommendation for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. However, recent research reported by MindfulAging.com has discovered that community dance programs specifically have a unique benefit for those with this condition. Group dance not only provides individuals with Parkinson’s with the physical therapy and exercise they need to stay as active as possible, but it can also provide individuals with this condition with the ability to connect to others with their disease. Even dancing alone, at home or with a home DVD can provide individuals with Parkinson’s with the therapy they need to not only get up and get moving, but to feel like themselves again.
Stay Focused on Mental Health
So many suggestions regarding Parkinson’s disease have to do with exercise and while exercise is a great way to help slow down the progression of this disease and some of its symptoms, it isn’t the only thing that you need to focus on with your loved one. It is important that you watch your loved one’s mental health. Whether you are an occasional or part-time caregiver, or a full-time caregiver, you are going to be spending more time with your loved one than the average person—meaning you are going to be able to spot mental health issues more easily than others.
If you notice any signs of anxiety or depression or extreme changes in mood, behavior or interests, it is important to talk to your loved one’s doctor right away, so they can get the help they need. Depression isn’t only common in serious disease like this, but the changes in the brain that happen with Parkinson’s may also trigger symptoms of depression as well.
There is still not standard treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. However, lifestyle changes such as getting more rest and more exercise are highly effective in helping people with this condition to manage their symptoms. As a new caregiver to someone with Parkinson’s disease, the more you can do to help your loved one make these smart lifestyle changes, the better off they will be until we find a cure.
- Rena is the author of The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver. As a caretaker to her mother who suffered from Alzheimer's and her subsequent advocacy, she understands fully the challenges faced by caregivers of seniors with dementia and brings a unique perspective of the subject. She has been featured on Huffington Post and other major publications.
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