Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain, which is symptomized by uncontrollable shaking, rigidness, and problems with gait, balance, and coordination. The off-set of the disease typically takes place after the age of sixty, however, in rare cases, symptoms can manifest in individuals during their fifties.
Up until now, there is no absolute cure for the disease. The condition worsens over time, and the affected individuals gradually start to lose their ability to walk or talk. Additionally, people suffering from Parkinson’s also experience mental problems, such as changes in behavior, insomnia or hypersomnia, depressive symptoms, memory loss, and fatigue.
Taking this into account, taking care of an individual with Parkinson’s can be a full-time job. In order to offer their loved ones with an optimal level of care, most individuals hire home health care services to provide a full-time aide. However, even if you are a secondary caregiver, you must have some understanding of how to take care of someone with Parkinson’s disease.
Give them autonomy
Parkinson’s disease obstructs your loved one’s ability to perform the actions of daily living. Seeing your loved ones in this state can be quite difficult. You may have the overwhelming desire to take care of every little thing to avoid seeing them struggle. However, during the early stages of the disease, it is imperative to stop yourself from taking over their lives, as it can severely damage the self-image of your loved ones. You must not transform yourself into playing the role of the nurse, rather you should provide them with some degree of autonomy so that they do not feel completely helpless. It is important to know that performing simple tasks might take them a long time. Taking this into account, you must remain patient throughout.
Meet with the doctors
After receiving the diagnosis, it is essential for the caretaker to be present at all the doctor’s appointments. Meeting with the doctors would allow you to take notes, ask specific questions, and educate yourself on the problems that you or your loved ones are experiencing. During these meetings, you can talk about all the specific issues that your loved one may not recall. For instance, if they are having difficulty sleeping, you can discuss the issues in detail and come up with an accommodating solution.
If you have a busy work schedule, you can use a digital calendar to add reminders about the upcoming doctor’s visits. This way, you can be notified about an upcoming appointment and subsequently, prepare for it.
Educate yourself on the insurance plan
Parkinson’s is a lifelong illness. Dealing with it can be extremely costly. If you are the primary caregiver of a person struggling with Parkinson’s, it is essential to learn about health insurance and other payment plans to cover your medical bills. You can search through the multitudes of options online, or join a support group, which can guide you on the different options that cover the doctor’s fee, prescriptions, mental health care and etc.
Record symptoms, changes and the effect of medicines
When you are taking care of someone with Parkinson’s, it is important to keep track of the changes in their symptoms, behaviors, as well as the effect of the different medicines. While Parkinson’s cannot be cured, the doctors can prescribe medicine that can decrease the speed of worsening the condition. Taking this into consideration, you are required to keep a record of every unusual behavior that is exhibited. Additionally, if your loved one is prescribed a new dosage of medicines, you can record the side effects and report them back to the doctor. This way, you can keep track of the prognosis and provide the most accomodating treatment to your loved ones.
Taking care of someone with Parkinson’s disease requires a lot of flexibility and patience. Even if you are having a bad day, it is essential to not lose your patience with the person. To do this, you can find a hobby or activity that enables you to release all the stress that can drive you to lose your patience. For instance, you can take up yoga classes, or dedicate a few minutes of your day to exercise or to participate in mindful meditation. Finding a hobby is important as the only way that you can proficiently care for someone else, is by taking care of yourself. So, find a channel of release for your all negative emotions, so that you do not lose your patience on someone else.
Serve a nutritious diet
Individuals struggling with Parkinson’s require a nutritious diet. As a caretaker, it is important to serve nutritious, home-cooked meals, which are easy to chew and swallow. Although there is no specific requirement for people with Parkinson’s, it is still essential to provide them with a variety of food groups, including whole grains, fresh produce, dairy products, proteins, and dry fruits. With that said, the following ingredients should be avoided:
- Decrease the sugar intake
- Reduce the intake of salt and sodium
- Avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages
Do not neglect your mental well-being
When you are taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s, your mental health can be comprised. The job of looking after them is full-time, with no breaks. Therefore, it is essential to ask for help, when you need it. One of the most important things that you can do for yourself, is to find a support system that can help you process your feelings in this hard time. Additionally, you can also talk to a mental health professional to make sure that your experience doesn’t affect your mental well-being.
Being an active caretaker for a loved one with Parkinson’s is mentally and physically arduous. Therefore, taking assistance from professional nurses, provided by a home care company, can help you reduce the pressure on yourself. You can follow the preceding tips and hire an aide to assist your loved one, as well as yourself, to get through this difficult time.