1. ACT AND THINK POSITIVE
When someone in the family has Parkinson`s disease this can influence the behaviour and emotions of the whole family. So, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude.
2. BE PREPARED
It is important for the primary caregiver to gather and understand any necessary information on available resources. This will help them to understand what changes to expect in their loved one's behaviour or symptoms and how they can best help when those changes occur.
If possible, the caregiver should accompany the person with Parkinson`s disease to their medical appointments and direct any necessary questions to the doctor or nurse. The caregiver needs to determine how much they can and can’t do themselves and what type of outside support is needed.
3. TIME MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING
Good planning is essential, both for the person with Parkinson’s and the primary caregiver. Making schedules that include caregiving activities (appointments with the doctor, medication schedules, exercise) as well as periods for rest and recreation for the caregiver is recommended.
The caregiver needs to be realistic about how much support they can provide – don’t try to do it all alone. It is important to share the responsibilities of care with others – either other members of the family, friends, or by involving professional care providers.
Probably one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, things caregivers can do is to take care of themselves. The caregiver must know how to identify warning signals that indicate overload: sleep problems, fatigue or mood changes. Symptoms of stress may also appear.
It is crucial for the caregiver to rest and to learn relaxation techniques that help them to manage negative emotions. If necessary, ask for help from their doctor or another qualified healthcare professional.
It is also recommended for caregivers to join support groups, if possible. Support groups are a great place to ask for advice and find out about useful resources, coping strategies and to exchange information. There are also online support groups to ask and receive support in a more anonymous or flexible approach.
Caregivers should also find time to rest, take breaks, ensure they are eating properly, and keep social activities, to remain as healthy and happy as possible. This will benefit both the caregiver and the patient they are caring for.