What To Do When A Loved One Is Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease
When someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, close friends and family members typically feel sadness and a sense of helplessness. Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder, and the rate of disease progression may vary widely from one person to another. It can be difficult to accept the diagnosis, especially for the individual who has been diagnosed and the spouse or family member who will likely become the primary caregiver. If you are becoming a caregiver to someone with Parkinson’s Disease, please review these important recommendations.
According to the National Parkinson Foundation , people with Parkinson’s may experience the following changes:
- Cognition changes
- Mood changes
- Inconsistent response to medications; fatigue
- Changing safety needs based on cognition and mobility issues
- Physical symptoms that respond to occupational therapy
However, medications may reduce disease symptoms in early stage Parkinson’s and scientists are working on the development of new treatments to help Parkinson’s patients.
Becoming a Caregiver
In relationships where a spouse becomes a caregiver, traditional roles will often need to change. The caregiver will need to take on responsibilities that were previously managed by the other person, and may include managing the finances, taking care of the household, driving, etc.
As a caregiver, you need to take proper care of yourself. So, in addition to the medical and therapy appointments you arrange for your loved one, you must schedule personal time every day to take exercise, socialize with friends, listen to music, or just relax. Taking care of a loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be demanding.
Creating a Group
Put together a team of friends, family, and volunteers who can help take care of your loved one. Tell your team members how they can help and what they can do to provide assistance with your loved one and give you a break. Consider contracting experienced in-home help such as nursing aides to assist with meal preparation, medication management, and checking vital signs. Nursing aides can also help with cleaning, laundry, and transportation as well as bathing, grooming, and toileting, if needed.
Understanding Medical Needs and Coverage
Talk with your physician and a movement disorder specialist about the current, medium, and long-term medical and non-medical needs of your loved one. Ask about medical and non-medical treatments as well as clinical studies that may be relevant. Spend time understanding the rights of your loved one’s disability insurance as well as the details of his or her medical coverage and what medications and therapies are included. If you need help, consult a case worker or social worker. All of this takes time, but it is time well spent.
Frequently, Parkinson’s patients experience fatigue during the day. Since this is the time you would typically schedule activities, you may need to break up activities in small chunks to allow for breaks or naps during the day. You may need to keep schedules flexible and have a back-up plan. Avoid activities that require strong focus and coordination when the individual is fatigued.
Caring for someone with Parkinson’s Disease can be a very emotional experience. However, with patience, understanding, and a supportive group, you can help your loved live an active life and cultivate your relationship.
Do you have questions about caring for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease? Expicare can help. Contact us at 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com. For more information on caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease, check out the National Parkinson Foundation at https://www.parkinson.org/.
Expicare Nursing, Inc.
Owned and managed by highly qualified Registered Nurses, Expicare is a recognized leader of home health care in South Florida. For over three decades, Expicare has provided unparalleled home health care to thousands of patients throughout Palm Beach County. From post-surgery assistance to compassionate care for patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s, Expicare provides highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants to care for your parents or loved ones. For more information, contact 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com.