Making Meaning in Caregiving

The concept of ‘making meaning’ is used in counseling to help people shape the way they view situations in their lives. How you and your loved one experience Parkinson’s disease (PD) and adjust your lives will most likely evolve. Over time, you can decide to make meaning out of this experience and find purpose in it.

Every once in a while, ask yourself (and each other) how you are doing and what you have lost, gained and learned about life and yourself through your experience with PD.

Consider what you are most grateful for and reflect on how you can continuously strive for improvement and show up for yourself and those you love. There is much personal growth and resilience that can be discovered on this Parkinson’s journey.

Honoring the Good and the Bad

Caregiving is not an either/or experience. It offers trials and triumphs as well as challenges and joys. What are some good things you can look for in your caregiving role?

Connection

At first, you may think you are alone in the caregiving role. However, if you invest in finding community you will realize that there are many others in a similar situation. You can make friends and adopt your new identity as care partner. You will discover new interests and endeavors along the way.

Relationships

Accept and be thankful for the help of family and friends and appreciate your quality time with them. Although “sharing the care” can sometimes lead to conflict, people who have worked through this with some success find that it can bring families closer. In addition, your care partner role might bring a feeling of increased closeness to your loved one.

Growth

Take pride in how much you have learned and discovered your own strengths. Through caregiving, you are likely to gain new insights about life. Find positives in every day, feel empowered and recognize your accomplishments.

ruth_riley
MY PD STORY: Ruth Riley

I told him to set aside these worries — I would never see him as a burden. I’d be with him every step of the way. This was my journey, too, just as much as it was his.

Finding Meaning through Support Groups

Many people with PD and care partners find comfort in meeting others going through similar experiences. Parkinson’s support groups cover many varieties of PD-specific topics. Some are for people with PD, others are for care partners, and some are for both.

Although support groups can help, they are not for everyone. Some people even avoid them due to a fear of “seeing people who are more advanced.” It can be helpful to call the leader of the group and ask about who typically attends to see if they are in the same age range and stage as you are.

After attending at least one or two support group meetings, many people with PD, their care partners or their loved ones find themselves relieved and validated to be in the company of people with whom they can relate. You may be surprised to learn that you are not alone in the emotions or challenges you have experienced with PD.

Support groups are also a great place to learn symptom management tips and get resource recommendations on everything from books and exercise programs to tips for easier everyday living.

Benefits of Support Groups

  • Finding commonality among members
  • Being educated and finding information
  • Help adjusting to a diagnosis
  • Learning practical techniques
  • Feeling understood
  • Reducing stigma
  • Finding socialization and friendships

Starting Your Own Support Group

Want to create your ideal support group? Created for first-timers, our guide takes you through the process of starting, facilitating and maintaining a Parkinson’s support group.

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