Caring for a person with a chronic illness, such as Parkinson’s disease, on a full-time basis can be overwhelming. Following are some ideas you might incorporate to keep your life more balanced as your loved one goes through the stages of Parkinson’s disease.
1) Put together a list of friends and family members whom you trust and can call upon to relieve you for a few hours or in case of an emergency.
2) Consider seeking outside, professional help for in-home assistance if you can afford it. A good suggestion is to interview a couple of in-home care agencies to see whom you might like best to deliver services to your Cared For, then register your information with them so that when you need them, in case of an emergency, they already have the information they need to fulfill your care request(s)
3) Schedule regular social activities and time for yourself. Go out with friends, enjoy a physical activity independently or take classes that interest you, have a spa treatment or massage, got to a movie. For People with Parkinson’s who require constant care, check out local programs that will take care of them on a temporary basis such as Adult Day Care Centers, Respite Care Programs, etc. This allows you time to seek the support and rest that you need.
Caregivers, as does the Person with Parkinson’s, often reacts to the Parkinson’s diagnosis with denial, fear or anger. To see your loved one change before your eyes, particularly if their mood or behavior has altered, can be difficult not to take personally. Talking openly about what you are experiencing, and clearly communicating on a day-to-day basis, are critical for both the Person with Parkinson’s and the caregiver.
Support groups offer a confidential forum to share experiences and information with other like-minded caregivers. Typically there are groups for People with Parkinson’s and their loved ones to attend together, and separate meetings just for caregivers. Each group has a different temperament so you may want to check a couple of them before finding the right fit for you.
Keep in mind that Parkinson’s disease effects everyone differently. How you and your loved one journey through the disease process depends on your individual personalities and relationship. The objective is that over time you come to an agreement on what constitutes the most effective, supportive and beneficial care collaboration for both of you.
As is requested when taking an airline flight: in case of an emergency the oxygen masks will deploy from overhead, PLACE YOUR MASK ON FIRST, then place the mask on the person(s), or a child, who may need your help. Remember, being the caregiver is a very integral part of the equation and without you, your “Cared For” would be in deep doo-doo.