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Helping Your Loved One with PD

Do you have a loved one with PD? Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, so knowing what to do in order to help your loved one can be tricky.  Let’s review some tips to learn how to help your loved one. 



Encourage frequent movement. If your loved one has limited mobility, find ways that keep them engaged throughout the day.


Remind them to move big. When walking, cue your loved one to take big steps. When reaching, cue your loved one to reach big. When turning around a corner, cue them to turn big (wide). 


Don’t help. I know that sounds funny but let your loved one do as much as they can. It comes from a good place, but helping too much actually robs their brain from keeping those movement circuits engaged during the day.


Plan appointments or activities around your loved one’s routine. PD medication can be finicky. You want to make sure that whatever the plan is, your loved one is able to move the best. 


Keep a regular mealtime. Protein can really impact the brain's ability to get the full dose of medication. Having a regular meal time that is scheduled around the medication timing can be super helpful. 


Create an ADA home. For those who are able to, start to think about what modifications can be made to your home to make moving around easier if your loved one ever experiences worsening of motor function. 


Be patient. Your loved one may experience movement symptoms that make it harder and slower to move. Do your best to be patient and give them time to move at their own pace. 


Non-motor symptoms are just as impactful. Depression, apathy, and anxiety are three non-motor symptoms that can impact your relationship. Talk with their doctor if you are noticing these symptoms and feel like it is putting a strain on their relationship with you and others. 


Don’t argue with delusion. If your loved one experiences delusions with PD, try to acknowledge their feelings, distract them, and try to find ways around the delusion. Arguing or correcting can make things worse.


Build a community. Find local providers, support groups, exercises classes etc before you may need them. It is helpful to have people you know you can go to instead of having to find those individuals/groups when you do need them.



Care for the care partner 

Your role and responsibilities also change with the diagnosis. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of your partner. Caregiver burnout, or feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted, can occur if you don’t take care of yourself. Signs of caregiver burnout include extreme fatigue even though you are sleeping, mental “fog”, excessive or unexpected anger, and increased anxiety. The following tips can help with burnout


Find a support group. There are several local and national support groups for care partners. Talking to or hearing about other peoples experiences may bring you comfort and support. 


Organize help. Talk with family and friends about a regular schedule of help for your loved one that will relieve you of your duties every week/month/bimonthly.


Keep up with your hobbies. Don’t lose yourself in this process. Continue doing the things that bring you joy and that define you, even if you don't do them as often. 



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