ARTICLES / Parkinson's /
How To Be A Parkinson's Caregiver /
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
The unknowns of the day-to-day caregiving are
probably the most stressful for caregivers. Having
systems in place of organization and support will
make these situations seem less overwhelming.
Adapting the home environment is one of the major
tasks any caregiver must take on. Whether at a
senior residence or the personís personal home,
small changes can be made to avoid big disasters.
Living areas, kitchens and bathrooms can be adapted
to help the decreasing cognitive and physical
abilities of a loved one with Parkinsonís. Make sure
there are open pathways around the home and remove
obstacles and unsteady rugs, decorations, etc. that
may cause an accident.
Put grab bars in bathrooms and even along hallways.
Designate hot or cold on faucets with labels and
colored tape. Leave items at chest or waist height
so reaching wonít cause falls.
In addition to changing the environment, a
caregiver must be able to help with adjustments on
daily tasks such as dressing, teeth brushing,
showering, etc. Confusion and unsteadiness make
these seemingly standard tasks challenging. Help a
loved one understand what is going on and proceed
slowly, with care and compassion.
A very common symptom of Parkinsonís is
ďfreezing.Ē Help a loved one move around easier by
pretending they are walking over something, or rock
very slowly back and forth to get moving again.
Exercise, to any degree possible, is very important
to a loved oneís health and well-being. Sitting
around will only make their mind-set diminish, as
well as the physical aspects.
Encourage activity, communication and involvement
socially as much as possible. As the disease
progresses, these things will become more and more
challenging to do. Itís important a caregiver
encourage it when a loved one still is able to be
For caregiving in the latter stages of
Parkinsonís disease, challenges will arise. A
caregiver should plan ahead and anticipate problems.
Have paperwork done and organized. Separate tasks
into smaller, manageable parts to encourage
independence. The trenches wonít seem so deep then!