Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with, unfortunately, no cure. Symptoms first begin to affect fine motor skills, but eventually affect and debilitate the body in terms of major movements. Walking around and doing daily tasks will gradually become more difficult.
Here at Sunways, we know that living with this type of physical decline requires tremendous support. If you have ever known someone with PD, you know that this condition affects the entire family and support system. With the correct information and medications, symptoms can be managed, and quality of life can be greatly improved.
A great place to start is by educating yourself about the likely progression of the disease, so you can be as prepared as possible with few surprises. This also means coming to terms with the diagnosis in general. PD is progressive, meaning the disease will change, as will your role as a caregiver. It is a good idea to reach out to an experienced caregiver for insight. Visit a caregiver’s support group, and you will find a plethora of information from those who have walked the path before you. Accompany your loved one to doctor’s appointments. Meet their physician, take notes, and ask questions. This is one of the best ways to educate yourself. Even if your loved one is physically able to take themself to appointments, joining them lets them know they are not alone, and helps keep everyone on the same page.
Stay organized. Remember serving as a caregiver requires you to support yourself as well. Caregiving is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Help your brain avoid burnout by using an organization system like a calendar to track appointments, medications, and even side effects. Recording daily trackers like your loved one’s mood, appetite, energy level, and so on can also provide valuable information when evaluating their treatment plan. Stay on top of insurance. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with coverage, and be aware of any changes that could impact you financially as the disease progresses. Parkinsons is a complex disease and every patient reaches points of management in their own way. Support your loved one along this journey by staying organized for them.
Here at Sunways, we like to live by the phrase, “control the controllable”. This is a great concept to apply when caring for a loved one with PD. In other words, focus your energy on what will actually make a difference. Make sure medications are taken correctly. Med management is one of the most important jobs as a caregiver. Following that advice, be observant. Watch for any changes in symptoms and abilities, especially when beginning a new medication or therapy. Observe changes that might put your loved one at risk. Losing motor function is challenging, but being honest and observant can prevent falls and other injuries.
Remember that accepting help from loved ones, or external services like in-home health, meal delivery services or even a move to assisted living or memory care is NOT a sign of weakness or defeat. It’s a sign of strength and love.
As a caregiver, you are not able to control your loved one’s mood or emotional state. Living with Parkinson’s Disease is an extreme challenge. Support your loved one as best you can with safety as the main priority. In the upcoming weeks, we will share even more information about influencing your loved one to tap into health and wellness practices that can contribute to an improved mental and emotional state.
If you are struggling to find information and resources to support a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease, please reach out to us here at Sunways. We are here to guide you in your caregiving journey as best we can!