Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be life-changing, not just for the individual but also for their loved ones. As a caregiver or family member, your support and understanding play a vital role in helping your loved one navigate through the challenges of Parkinson’s, but how can you best support them?
In this article, our multidisciplinary neurosurgery team discusses some practical ways to support someone with Parkinson’s disease and enhance their quality of life.
Start by educating yourself about Parkinson’s disease. Understand the symptoms, progression, and available treatments. This knowledge helps you provide informed support and communicate effectively with your loved one’s health care team. Stay updated on the latest research and advancements — such as deep brain stimulation — in Parkinson’s management to explore new possibilities together.
Be a good listener
People living with Parkinson’s may experience a wide range of emotions, from frustration and sadness to anxiety and fear. Be there to listen and validate their feelings. Allow them to express their concerns without judgment or interruption. Sometimes, lending a compassionate ear can significantly affect their emotional well-being.
Maintain open communication
Clear and open communication is crucial when supporting someone with Parkinson’s. Encourage them to share their symptoms, challenges, and needs. Ask questions and actively listen to understand their experiences. Regularly check in with your loved one to assess their physical and emotional well-being and address any concerns they may have.
Provide practical assistance
Parkinson’s disease can affect mobility and daily tasks. Offer practical assistance with activities like meal preparation, house cleaning, or transportation to medical appointments. Understand their limitations and be patient. Encourage independence (or even provide assistive tools) while being ready to step in when needed.
Encourage exercise and physical therapy
Regular exercise and physical therapy can greatly benefit individuals with Parkinson’s. Encourage your loved one to engage in appropriate physical activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. These activities can help improve balance, mobility, and overall well-being. Consider joining them for exercise sessions to provide motivation and companionship.
Support medication management
Managing medication schedules and potential side effects can be challenging for individuals with Parkinson’s. Help your loved one stay organized by creating a system to track medications and set reminders. You might try medication management apps, reminder apps, or pill organizers.
Accompany your loved one to doctor's appointments here at Link Neuroscience Institute to discuss medication adjustments, address any concerns, or ask questions.
Seek support networks
Encourage your loved one to join Parkinson’s support groups or connect with others facing similar challenges. These networks offer valuable emotional support, shared experiences, and information exchange. Caregiver support groups can also provide a space for you to share your feelings and learn from others in similar roles.
Caring for someone with Parkinson’s can be physically and emotionally demanding. Remember to prioritize your own well-being. Take breaks, engage in activities you enjoy, and seek support for yourself when needed. Maintaining your own physical and mental health is essential to provide the best care possible.
Stay positive and flexible
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease with unpredictable symptoms and fluctuations. It's important to remain flexible and adapt to the changing needs of your loved one. Celebrate their victories, no matter how small, and focus on what they can do rather than dwell on limitations.
Be an advocate
Advocate for your loved one’s needs within the health care system and the community. Stay informed about available resources, financial assistance, and legal considerations. Stand up for their rights and ensure they receive the best possible care and support.
You got this
Supporting a loved one with Parkinson’s disease requires patience, understanding, and empathy. You can make a significant impact on their journey by educating yourself, maintaining open communication, providing practical assistance, and encouraging a positive mindset. Remember, your unwavering support and care can help them face the challenges of Parkinson's with strength and resilience.
To learn more about Parkinson’s disease or to schedule an appointment at our Santa Barbara or Oxnard, California, office, call the location of your choice or use our online scheduling tool.