Special Challenges of Caring for Someone with Parkinson’s

Finding balance is key to addressing the challenges of Parkinson’s care.

Finding balance is key to addressing the challenges of Parkinson’s care.

Understand the Disease and the Person with Parkinson’s

  • The incidence and severity of Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms vary from day to day and even from one time of day to another. It takes skill and patience to know when to assist with a task and when to simply allow the person more time to do the task independently.
  • It also takes time and ongoing education to learn the many symptoms of PD as well as the often-complicated medication regimens that offer the most symptom relief and improve quality of life.
  • Caregivers must closely observe the person with Parkinson’s over time to detect and respond helpfully to subtle changes in motor function (how we move) and mood (how we feel).
  • Your loved one might not be aware of his or her changing abilities. Understanding of health risks (such as falling) may not have “caught up” to his or her actual level of risk and impairment.

Be Realistic About Your Experiences and Needs

  • Friends and family members who have infrequent contact with the person with Parkinson’s often underestimate the severity of symptoms as well as your level of caregiver burden. At the same time, they might be able to help identify serious changes in the person’s status that you did not notice because things progress gradually over time.
  • Providing physical care to someone with advanced PD, such as re-positioning or helping with bathing, can be exhausting and even cause physical injury to the caregiver.
  • Caregivers focus on loved ones, but need to remember to care for themselves. This includes building a support network, recognizing stressors and reaching out for help or a break, when needed.
  • To order free caregiver resources or speak with PD specialists, call the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).
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