The month of April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and it puts a spotlight on the progressive neurological disease. As researchers and physicians have worked diligently on a cure, over one million Americans live with the daily challenges that Parkinson’s brings with it. Difficulties like mild tremors, difficulty walking, and the need for round-the-clock help are expected. If you’re a family caregiver for a senior parent with Parkinson’s, here are some recommendations for helping your loved one enjoy the best possible quality of life.
Learn How And When To Offer Them Help
Caregiving starts with recognizing that your loved one needs help and accepting that they may not want it yet. At the onset of Parkinson’s, your parent may not fully accept the fact that they have the disease. They may refuse your offers of assistance because they’re in a state of denial. In the early stages of the disease, it’s best to offer help when you see them struggling, not because you want to spare them the difficulty. Don’t take it personally if they turn you away; give them space and, if possible, wait for them to ask for your assistance.
Be proactive about their care
If you’re coping with a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s, seek out a movement disorder specialist and follow the doctor’s exercise recommendations to maintain mobility for as long as possible. Get complete information about your parent’s treatment, medications, and possible side effects, so you know what to expect when physical and behavioral changes occur.
Find A Local Support Group
A local support group will be able to put you in touch with fellow caregivers to get caregiving tips, share stories, and gain support. A Google search can help you find out if there are Parkinson’s-specific support groups in your area. They’re not available everywhere, but those that do exist will give you specific insights into how you can care for your senior parent with Parkinson’s. For assistance finding Parkinson’s resources near you, you can also use the Parkinson’s Foundation website zip code tool or call the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO.
Find Someone Who Will Listen
Parkinson’s brings with it a slower pace of life, and the changing nature of your loved one’s physical abilities can make planning a challenge. All of this on top of regular daily life and maintaining a strong bond with your parent. It’s important that you have an appropriate outlet for your feelings and can say things you can’t say elsewhere. Finding someone who will simply listen is sometimes all you need.
Understand How The Disease Affects Their Daily Life
Knowing how Parkinson’s can affect motor skills from day-to-day can help you maintain your patience and remain supportive. For example, if your parent can put their socks on one day but not the next, they’re not being stubborn. It’s just part of living with Parkinson’s disease. Allow them to do what they can for themselves. Understand that they may be able to accomplish tasks, but just more slowly than they could in the past.
Preserve Your Relationship With Your Parent
Focus first on your relationship role with your loved one. Don’t hesitate to hire people to do the tasks that come with caregiving. This will free up your time and allow you to enjoy the time you have together, doing things that you normally would do.
For additional advice on helping a senior parent with Parkinson’s, you can download the 180-page workbook “Coping & Caring: A Caregiver’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease” to guide you through the caregiving process. You can also order a free copy on the Parkinson’s Foundation website.
Need A Hand?
At Home Instead, we understand how difficult it is to care for a parent with Parkinson’s. Our mission is lifting the spirits of those we serve by offering them dependable and affordable home care options. To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care or to schedule a FREE consultation for a senior in Naples, Fort Myers, Charlotte County, or the surrounding areas today, please visit us at www.homeinsteadswfl.com.