If your spouse, parent, or other loved one is among the one million Americans living with Parkinson’s Disease, you are most likely relied upon as a caregiver. This is an admirable yet difficult duty, and it’s important to use all of the resources available to gain the support you need.
Whether you’ve been a Parkinson’s caregiver for just a few months or many years, the following tips will help you juggle your responsibilities and care for yourself as well.
Understand What to Expect
It’s difficult to be an effective caregiver when you’re not sure what the disease or condition will ultimately trigger. Parkinson’s disease causes a gradual decline in physical ability and mood regulation as the body fails to produce enough dopamine. Your loved one’s movements will become stiff and hard to control. It’s also possible for Parkinson’s to cause depression and dementia.
Support Positive Lifestyle Changes
Since Parkinson’s does not become debilitating over night, your loved one will have months or even years to adopt lifestyle choices that will make Parkinson’s symptoms more manageable. For example, you can help your loved one lose weight so that his movements are not restricted by excess body weight in the future.
Join a Support Group
Balancing your full-time job, normal responsibilities, and caregiver duties is exhausting. You need your own support system in order to seek advice, share your emotions, and receive encouragement. A support group online or in your local area is the best solution. There are millions of sons, daughters, husbands, and wives around the country who know the challenges and rewards of being a caregiver.
Learn More About Caregiver Rights
Serving as a family caregiver can become a fulltime job, which is why it’s possible to get paid for fulfilling this role. It’s not possible everywhere or under every circumstance, but your situation may apply. Some Medicaid programs do pay family caregivers as long as they aren’t spouses or legal guardians. Others are willing to pay caregivers who live at a different address than the patient.
By educating yourself and taking preventative steps for the future, you can help your loved one through Parkinson’s disease while also taking care of yourself.