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The 10 Best Ways to Help a Loved One with Parkinson's

It often begins so subtly, it’s almost imperceptible – a mild tremor; trouble sleeping; slight changes in handwriting. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of conditions, but if they begin to become more noticeable, and are combined with other hallmark symptoms, the doctor may determine a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. For those caring for someone with Parkinson’s, it may be difficult to know how best to help the person live as safely, comfortably, and independently as possible. Here are the 10 best ways to help a loved one with Parkinson’s.

1. Be Involved

Doctors encourage caregivers to attend doctor’s appointments. Your involvement may help the doctor understand how the disease is progressing, how the treatments are working, and what side effects are appearing the most. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, dementia may make the patient’s memory worse. By going to the appointment, you can help remind your loved one what the doctor said or instructed. Your role during this time is especially important to the treatment plan.

2. Communicate

Communication is the best technique. And you can really notice the change in your loved one’s behavior. For instance: If your loved one tells you that they are frightened. Then you need to sit with them and allow them to do the talking. Instead of casually saying that everything will be fine, if you say that you are there for them, would mean a lot.

3. Establish a Team

Many family members and friends will be happy to help if you need to run errands or just take a break. Keep a handy list of people you can call on occasionally when you need help when taking care of your loved one. Next, designate whom you should call for certain situations. Some people may be more helpful with certain tasks, like grocery shopping, mailing packages, or picking up children from school.

4. Keep a close watch on the symptoms

Parkinson’s Disease causes a deficiency of dopamine, which leads to depression. So, if you happen to notice sudden changes in mood and behavior of your loved one, it is best to let your doctor know.

5. Look for a Support Group

Caring for a loved one can be very satisfying. It’s a chance for the whole family to draw together as you face the challenges of Parkinson’s disease head-on. However, providing emotional and physical care for someone with an illness can become stressful and overwhelming. Balancing your personal life with caregiving can be difficult. Of course, you don’t have to experience this alone. Support from other family members or professionals can help relieve stress, reevaluate approaches to treatment, and offer new perspective on the caregiving relationship.

6. Encourage your loved one to exercise

Research has shown that exercise is one of the most effective tools to manage Parkinson’s Disease. Regular exercise has shown to have positive results and improved mobility of individuals suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

7. Renovate for safety

Home modifications, such as adding wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, wider doorways are especially beneficial when caring for someone with Parkinson’s in the mid- to later stages of the disease. An in-home assessment, performed by a professional home care agency such as Valley of the Sun Homecare, can help with determining the best options for this particular situation.

8. Seek Professional Assistance

Especially in the latter stages of Parkinson’s disease, caring for your loved one may become more difficult. When this happens, you may need to seek professional care. Certain symptoms and side effects of Parkinson’s disease may be best treated with professional assistance or home health nurses, or in a nursing home environment.

9. Take care of their diet and nutrition

Diet and nutrition become an essential part of your loved ones with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s best to talk to their nutritionist about their nutritional needs. Encourage your loved ones to eat a healthy and balanced diet regularly. Moreover, the various medications may induce constipation in some cases. Therefore giving them fiber rich foods in various forms can help solve this problem.

10. Educate yourself about the disease

Parkinson's effects and treatment can be complex. Learn as much as you can from the patient's doctor, Parkinson's support groups, or books, and share what you learn with your loved one as well.

Whether you’re a spouse, parent, child, or friend, your role as a caregiver is to be on call 24/7. You’ll likely feel as if your entire world revolves around your loved one, while your personal life takes a backseat. As the physical demands of caring for a loved one increases, many caregivers neglect their own health. Remember to take care of yourself. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting proper sleep are just three things you can do to stay in shape.