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Care Givers Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Parkinson’s and Senior Health: Top Tips for Family Caregivers

By Staff Editor
Feb 2, 2017 - 8:11:14 AM

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( - Approximately 1 million Americans are affected by Parkinson’s disease, a progressive motor system disorder. Sufferers of the condition will have decreasing levels of dopamine in their brain, which causes mental and physical symptoms, including cognitive issues, difficulty speaking, depression, rigidity, tremors and slow movement. At the beginning of their treatment, patients may find that medication helps to control these symptoms but over time, these can become ineffective.

Parkinson’s disease can be incredibly frustrating for a patient as they lose the ability to do simple tasks such as dressing, walking, talking and eating, while also becoming more reliant on their loved ones. However, as a caregiver, you too can find the whole process frustrating as you see your loved one suffering and changing. It can be difficult to find ways to adapt to these changes but with some simple tips, you can provide the best care for your loved one and without putting too much strain on yourself.

Throughout the entire process, it’s important to remember that you need support too because being a caregiver can take its toll both mentally and physically.

Become Involved

As a caregiver, you’ll probably be invited to attend the doctor’s appointments of your loved one. This is because you’ll be able to advise the doctor how the patient’s disease is progressing, whether the treatment is working and whether there have been any side effects.

And, as the disease progresses and your loved one’s memory worsens, you’ll be able to provide accurate information to the doctor while also being able to remind your loved one what the doctor has advised. For the treatment to be as effective as possible, your involvement will be paramount.

Gather a Team of Helpers

Even if you want to be the sole caregiver for your loved one, it’s important that you build a strong network of people around you. This is vital if you ever need to take a break or need some errands running for you, and you’ll find that many of your neighbors, friends and family members will be more than happy to help.

Have a list of these handy helpers on standby in case you need to call them, having certain people designated for particular situations. Some people will be able to offer better help in different circumstances, e.g. picking the children up from school, doing the grocery shop or sending your mail.

Find a Local Support Group

A lot of satisfaction can be gained from caregiving as you’ll probably find it brings your family closer together and unites you in your battle against this dreadful disease. However, providing the physical and emotional care your loved one needs can be incredibly tiring and you may find yourself overwhelmed by this at times. This is especially true when you try to juggle your caring with your personal life and can result in you feeling abandoned, angry or guilty.

But you don’t have to do this alone. There are many professionals and support groups out there that can help to give you the support you need, providing you with that fresh perspective so you can offer your loved one the best possible care. Ask your hospital or doctor for your local Parkinson’s disease support group and attend this as often as you can.

Seek the Help of Professionals

It can become increasingly difficult to care for your loved one, especially as their disease worsens. That’s why it’s often a good idea to seek professional help in the latter stages, even if you want to try and care for them at home.

Some of the side effects or symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are best treated with the help of home health nurses or professional assistance or within a nursing home environment such as that offered at Parc Provence. These side effects and symptoms include severe depression, hallucinations, dementia and difficulty balancing or walking.

Take Care of Yourself

As soon as your loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, your role as a caregiver will commence, which can turn your world upside down. Overnight, you can go from leading a normal life to being a 24/7 caregiver for your loved one. This not only means that your personal life may be affected but your physical health too. That’s why you need to make sure you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and get a good night’s sleep.

Remembering to take care of yourself is one of the most important aspects of being a caregiver because when you’re at 100%, the care you’re providing to your loved one will be too. 


Jayden Armstrong works in a care home and writes about some of the highs and lows of his job with the elderly.


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