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Caregiver Corner: How to Manage Stress as a Parkinson’s Caregiver

Caregiver Corner - March 2017

Learning to take the best care of yourself is caregiver job #1. When you’re a Parkinson’s disease (PD) caregiver, life seems like an endless list of things to do with never enough time to do them. Every day can feel like it goes by in 10 minutes — and lasts two weeks.

As the disease progresses, your caregiving responsibilities will inevitably expand. But it’s complicated. Your loved one may require support and supervision, while struggling with the complex needs, wants, and frustrations of an adult.

Most likely, you have been able to manage your stress effectively in the past. But at Honor, we know caregiver stress is different.

It’s physical. It’s emotional. It’s often loaded with financial anxiety as well as confusion when symptoms appear, then recede, then appear again. The challenge of trying to maintain as much independence as possible for the one with Parkinson’s while balancing their safety, comfort, and quality of life can be a chronic source of stress over time.

Do you know how to take care of yourself early in your journey as a Parkinson’s caregiver?

First, let’s cover the five fundamentals of managing caregiver stress:

  1. Understand that caregiver stress is different.
  2. Make your own care and stress management a daily priority.
  3. Accept and embrace that you will need help.
  4. Build a care team of family, friends, and home care professionals.
  5. Every time you schedule an appointment or activity for your loved one, try to schedule a stress-reducing activity for yourself. Put it on your calendar and take it seriously.

Manage your Parkinson’s caregiver stress with a daily action plan.

Got 30 minutes a day? Got five minutes? Got nothing? No matter how much or how little time you have, this list of quick, easy stress-management tips to inspire you:

  1. Exercise daily.
  2. Take a walk where you can hear sounds of nature.
  3. Spend time with people who make you feel good.
  4. Edit the people who aren’t supportive.
  5. Get out of your head and into your body.
  6. Take a warm bath.
  7. Listen to calming nature sounds.
  8. Laugh—and feed your sense of humor.
  9. Exercise with friends.
  10. Smile for no reason.
  11. Create a calm zone outside.
  12. Create a serenity space inside.

Still looking for more things to add to your stress relief to-do list? Listen to music that puts a smile on your face. Learn to meditate. Listen to an interesting podcast—and to your body. Your body always knows what you need even when your brain doesn’t.

Honor is a home care agency providing service in California and northern Texas. Honor utilizes NPF’s proprietary care guidance to bring personalized care to the homes of people living with Parkinson’s. If you need more guidance or would like to talk to a PD specialist, you can also call the NPF Helpline at 1-800-473-4636.