Parkinson’s disease doesn’t follow the rules.
Symptoms common to this disease, including tremors, slow movement and rigidity, occur at varying levels among those affected by the disease. Some people will show all of these signs, while others may experience only some.
This fact, along with the fact that many other conditions cause similar symptoms, can make Parkinson’s disease difficult to diagnose. This sometimes leads to a more general diagnosis of parkinsonism, an umbrella under which several neurological conditions fall.
All of this uncertainty can be scary and exhausting for both the patient and his or her caregivers.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month – a good time to remind caregivers that they’re not alone, and that help is available.
Watch the Home Helpers video about caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease.
While the road ahead won’t be easy for those affected by Parkinson’s disease, there are steps that might make the journey a little smoother.
As a caregiver, information may be your best tool in caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease. Reading about Parkinson’s will help you know what to expect and will reassure you that you’re not alone.
Good sources of information include:
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (ninds.nih.gov)
- National Parkinson’s Foundation (parkinson.org)
- Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (pdf.org)
- Michael J. Fox Foundation (michaeljfox.org)
We also suggest you watch the Home Helpers video about caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease.
Keep a journal
A Parkinson’s patient’s symptoms can vary in number and severity even throughout a single day. To determine what might be normal and to keep track of changes that have taken place, many experts suggest that caregivers keep a journal.
In the journal, keep track of:
- Symptoms, and how they change throughout the day
- Activities, so as to determine what might help or hinder the patient’s mood or condition
- Your own thoughts and feelings. Writing them down can help you cope.
Learn when to help
Perhaps one of the hardest things about caring for someone with a degenerative condition is learning to know when to help, and when to let the person act on his own. That’s because the answer is a moving target – with abilities, temperaments and patience levels, that vary every day.
Keep these things in mind:
- Allow extra time for even the simplest tasks.
- Remember that Parkinson’s disease can affect the patient’s cognitive, as well as physical, abilities.
- Expect change. What works one day may not work the next.
- Give yourself time, too. You will make mistakes.
Take Care of Yourself
A caregiver’s health and well-being are vital to the health and wellbeing of the Parkinson’s patient. And remember, the job is even harder when you’re tired, hungry or not feeling your best.
Take the time to:
- eat right
- get enough sleep
- Be patient with yourself. This job isn’t easy, and no one expects you to be perfect.
Seek and Accept Help
It’s important not only to take care of your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health.
Seek out help from friends, neighbors, fellow church members and friends, and accept help where it is offered.
Home Helpers can fill this important role. Our trained caregivers can fill whatever needs you might have, whether it’s an afternoon at the spa, a weekend away, or around-the-clock care.
To learn more about how Home Helpers of Hinsdale can make life with Parkinson’s disease easier, call (630) 323-7231.