Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an age related chronic, progressive degenerative disorder of central nervous system that primarily affects movement of body, balance and muscle control. Caregiver plays a very crucial role in PD patient’s life. It is the ‘’Caregiver’’ who takes care of the basic needs, supports the patient, adapts his/her routine as per the patient’s requirement and basically establishes a care partnership with the patient. PD patient depends largely on the caregiver for assistance with daily routine activities, managing doctor’s appointments, physical or occupational therapy sessions and timely administration of medications.
With the progression of disease, the dependence on caregiver also increases. Thus it becomes vital for the caregiver to take care of themselves and do not neglect their own well being because their state of mind and overall health can impact their ability to provide care for their loved ones.
Care giving is a 24/7 job which is highly demanding and sometimes can become very challenging for both, patient as well as caregiver. People with PD are undergoing deterioration in physical abilities and changes in mental abilities as well. Due to which there is a possibility that caregiver may feel physically and emotionally drained. They may feel loved and appreciated and at times sad, angry, irritable or even frustrated. Following are the few tips for Parkinson’s disease caregivers which will help them to optimize their care and also find ways to lead a healthy and comfortable life.
- Stay organised: It is very important for caregivers to stay organised with all the medications, therapies and doctor’s appointments and familiarise themselves with the patient’s requirements and advancement of disease over time. Also it is very critical for caregiver to attend doctor’s appointment, give them their input about patient’s symptoms, any side effects or weather the treatment is working well for the patient to make the appointments more beneficial and efficient.
- Plan ahead and stay updated: Severity of PD symptoms progresses while patient’s abilities reduce over time. Thus the level of care should also increase with time. If the caregiver is well aware with the future symptoms, it will help them prepare for the situation in a better way.
- Establishing a team: Occasionally, caregiver can also ask for help from friends, relatives or neighbours or can opt for in-home care for taking a break to re-energize themselves.
- Seek professional assistance: With the increase in severity of symptoms(especially) in the later stages of the disease it is wise to take professional assistance from home health nurses or in a home nursing care environment. Also it is very important for the health of the patient to take help from physical therapist for providing help in performing exercises for PD patient to improve movement and speech therapist for better communication which enables greater independence and hence benefits both patient as well as caregiver.
- Support groups: Yet another advice for caregivers is to join support groups which are beneficial for both patient and caregiver. In support groups both patient and caregiver can have an open communication with other people going through same journey. Here they can share and discuss their fear and apprehensions, ideas and suggestions for coping with the situation.
- Caring for themselves: Sometimes while taking care for your loved ones, caregiver’s personal life may take a back seat. It is imperative for the caregiver to take care of their own health as this may impact their ability of care giving also. Having a healthy diet, taking proper sleep, exercising regularly and taking time for leisure activities will help in staying healthy and stress free.