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Helping Your Parent Cope with Parkinson’s Disease

Whether you are acting as a caregiver, or assisting your aging parent with daily tasks, finding ways to help them cope with their situation can be difficult, especially if they are diagnosed with an illness or disease. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly one million Americans live with the disease, and more than 10 million people worldwide have been diagnosed. Parkinson’s is a disorder that affects the brain, usually causing a consistent tremor, rigidity, and balance problems. This disease can look different to each person, which makes finding ways to cope a challenge. Here are some ways to help your parent or family member navigate the disease:

1. Stay involved. If you are the primary caregiver, or family designated advocate, it’s important to stay up-to-date on all medical matters. This means assisting your parent or loved one during their doctor’s visits, understanding which medicines they need to take, when to take them, and what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes during these visits. After all, helping your parent through an illness is emotionally demanding, so don’t forget to be gentle and patient with yourself.


2. Find support both for yourself and your parents. People living with Parkinson’s usually experience symptoms slowly throughout the years, which makes finding a solid support system crucial to mental and physical healing. It’s not easy watching a parent suffer, but thankfully there are many different support groups available to caregivers and children of those who have been diagnosed. Those living with Parkinson’s are also encouraged to seek out support groups in order to discuss the disease with others who are experiencing similar symptoms and emotions.


3. Don’t take over, even if it’s hard! Many caregivers and children feel protective over their loved one, which is completely normal. However, it’s important to let your senior to make the calls and communicate how they want to be cared for and what type of support they feel most comfortable with. Of course, you should always check with a doctor before making any medical or health-related changes.


4. Get help in planning your parent’s care. It’s not uncommon for caregivers or adult children to feel like they can handle their loved one’s illness alone. The truth is, it takes a team of people to provide the support your senior deserves. Whether it be family members, doctors, counselors, or caregivers, it’s important to create a team who will provide support for each other and to the person diagnosed with Parkinson’s.


5. Try to recognize that your mom is still your mom. Parkinson’s disease can often show up in different ways. Some people experience rigidity, and difficulty to physically express emotions. A lot of times, this can present itself as being disengaged or not interested. If this happens, try to remember that although it might not seem like it, they are still the same person you know and love.

Our Carespring nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky are always looking for ways to help families care for their loved ones. When it comes to caring your parent with Parkinson’s, what helps you?