Caring for someone with Parkinson’s
As a carer of someone with Parkinson’s disease, you will have to face many obstacles in life. Firstly, you have to educate yourself about the symptoms, treatment and progression of the disease, all whilst remembering to keep track of doctor’s appointments and when to take medication.
According to Parkinsons UK, it is not uncommon for carers of people with long-term conditions to feel isolated or frustrated. Knowing where you can go or who you can turn to when life gets on top of you is important and most of all encouraged. Parkinson's Awareness Week aims to help get that message across.
The role you have taken on by committing yourself to be a full-time carer will come with its own set of challenges, but it’s important that you take time for yourself. The following tips offer some guidance on how you can help both you and your loved one to get the most out of life:
Keep up with hobbies
People with Parkinson’s still enjoy many of the same hobbies as they did before. If they like cooking, they may be able to help you whip up a meal or bake a cake under supervision. Getting outdoors for walks or participating in gardening is a great way to keep them occupied whilst getting exercise.
Parkinsons UK runs 365 local groups throughout the UK, providing people with Parkinson’s and their families with an opportunity to take part in recreational classes such as art, coffee mornings, complementary therapies and exercise classes.
Maintain good nutrition
Although there is no specific diet that someone with Parkinson’s should follow, eating a balanced diet will improve their overall health and may ease certain symptoms that they’re experiencing, including low mood, reduced bone density, constipation and weight changes.
Some people may feel sick after taking medication, but a snack such as a biscuit or a cracker can help to ease this side effect. If the person with Parkinson’s is struggling with eating, make sure to talk to a GP, specialist or ask to see a registered dietician who will be able to advise on how to get the right amount of protein in their diet.
Learning as much as you can about Parkinson’s disease will help you to better understand what your loved one is going through and enable you to be more prepared for any changes in symptoms or behaviour.
Making safety changes to the home can help to lower the risk of falls. Fitting safety rails, clearing up clutter from the floor and removing unstable furniture such as lamps and side tables can help to prevent injuries. Keeping a calendar and jotting down when medication should be taken, dates of medical appointments and even changes in symptoms and emotions will help you to keep a track on things.
Though getting a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can be a worrying time for everyone involved, there is a lot of support and advice out there.
NHS Choices provides advice on what you need to know when either you or a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsons UK also runs a helpline and support groups across the country for people needing a listening ear or wanting to take part in activities.