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How To Be A Parkinson's Caregiver

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
(Page 3 of 3)


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 involved.

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!

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