Caring for Someone with Parkinson’s disease
Before you embark in the journey that is caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease, it is normal and ok to have concerns and questions. The caregiver must adapt and prepare him or herself to the challenges that will come ahead. With proper guidance and knowledge you will be able to handle the different obstacles that caring for a person with Parkinson’s can bring. It might be intimidating at first, but providing care for a loved one with this condition is something that you can achieve with love and determination.
To care for someone with Parkinson’s disease having patience is key, the incidence and severity of their symptoms can change on a daily basis. At times it could happen in the range of a single day. These symptoms are:
· Tremors in the limbs, starting with the hands and fingers. This can happen when the hand is relaxed.
· With time Parkinson’s disease will cause for a reduced mobility and slow movement. Shortening steps, making it difficult to get up from a chair, and so on. This is also known medically as bradykinesia.
· Rigid muscles, general muscle stiffness. This will limit your range of motion and can cause you pain. Using Electrotherapy on the affected muscles with a TENS unit such as the TENS 7000 could help alleviate the pain.
· Another symptom is that your posture might become impaired. This will also affect your balance. Having a decreased posture and balance demands for caregivers to be attentive of their care receiver’s movements.
· A person with Parkinson’s disease will eventually experience the loss of “automatic” unconscious movements, such as blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
· Another symptom is that people with Parkinson’s disease might develop some speech changes or impediments. A person with Parkinson’s (PWP) could begin to speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Their speech might even become monotone, as they can lose their normal vocal inflections.
It is important that when you are caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease that you familiarize yourself with these symptoms and expect them to happen at any time. A caregiver for a PWP needs to keep a close and watchful eye overtime to help detect and respond helpfully to subtle changes in their motor skills and their mood. Also, it is important that you take the time to learn the medication regimes that could help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A doctor can provide detailed information on what you need to do.
A caregiver should be able to explain to other people close to the PWP who have not as frequent contact about the severity of their symptoms and let them know about what to expect so they do not underestimate these symptoms. More severe cases of Parkinson’s disease will demand a larger physical effort from a caregiver as they will require to help the PWP perform otherwise normal day-to-day tasks. At first, and specially for close family members, caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease can be overwhelming. That stage of acceptance is perfectly normal and you should not feel any guilt what so ever of going through it. It is important that once you have been given the news of the diagnosis to immediately seek guidance and all the information you can get.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition, medication can decrease the symptoms but the rate of the progression of the disease can change from one patient to the other. When caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease, it is important to not only rely on the use of medication to help the PWP lead a normal life. Exercises, speech therapy, and occupational therapy can break through walls and not only give the PWP with a emotional boost it will help building communication between the caregiver and the care receiver.
Caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease is not an easy task, but it is possible and doable and there are multiple ways to achieve a better life for PWP. A caregiver armed with patient, diligence and love can make a world of difference. And while PWP can tend to live a normal lifespan, finding the proper way to sustain a routine to make things easier for both them and their caregivers is vital. We would like to leave you with an advise that veteran caregivers provide those who are starting to venture in this field:
“Never underestimate the power of prayer or meditation to lighten caregiver burden.”