People with Parkinson’s disease need many things from their caregiver, including emotional and physical support. As the disease progresses, the will become more dependent on their caregiver to help with daily tasks.
Their symptoms can change over the course of the day, from one day to the next, and over the course of time. Caregiving will look very different in the early stages compared to late stage Parkinson’s, and may look very different from one person to the next. However, here are some things you can expect in terms of how to care for someone with Parkinson’s disease.
People with Parkison’s want to be as independent as possible, especially in the early stages of the disease. While it may be faster and easier to do some tasks for them, it’s best to give them the additional time to manage things on their own. “When you rest, you rust” is a saying that applies; the more tasks they handle themselves, the more they are able to handle and the longer they can maintain that level of independence.
In terms of daily care, Parkinson’s affects balance which means a caregiver may need to help with bathing, for safety reasons. Loss of fine motor control can mean the person needs assistance with grooming, and buttons and zippers might be difficult. Tremors and motor symptoms can make eating a challenge.
Beyond these daily activities, caregivers also assist with making sure the treatment plan is followed and medications are on hand and taken on time. They help ensure the person with Parkinson’s is able to participate in social events, as well as getting them to doctor’s appointments, exercise classes, physical therapy, and other activities. Caregivers advocate with healthcare providers, and help manage finances.
As you may have realized, it’s more than one person can reasonably expect to manage alone, indefinitely. That’s why it’s vital for a caregiver to enlist a strong support system, including medical professionals, family members, and friends.
Caregivers monitor not just the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but also the person’s emotional and mental wellbeing. Be on the alert for mood changes and shifts in attitude which can indicate depression. Helping the person with Parkinson’s keep a positive outlook is vital for maintaining quality of life.