Caregiver holds the hand of a patient with Alzheimer's Disease.

Tips for Caregivers during Parkinson’s Awareness Month 

April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and in honor of raising awareness for this brain condition affecting at least half a million Americans, we wanted to offer some tips for some of the (often) unsung heroes of the condition: the caregivers. We know taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult and overwhelming, so we’ve put together a few tips on how you can best help your loved one. 

  • Be honest with each other. When you become the caregiver for a loved one, no matter their condition, it can become a little awkward. It’s important to remember you don’t have to fit into the roles of nurse and helpless patient. Rather, talk with each other honestly about what your loved one is capable of doing and what you may need to take on yourself. 
  • Educate yourself. Understanding the disease is crucial to taking good care of your loved one. The National Parkinson Foundation has great information, and your loved one’s medical care team can also be a helpful source of information. Don’t be afraid to ask question! 
  • Attend doctor’s appointments. While your loved one may not have an issue getting to doctors’ appointments in the beginning, it’s still important for you to tag along, ask questions, take notes, and be involved in their care. Your loved one may not always bring issues or symptoms up for various reasons, but if it’s something affecting them negatively like sleeping problems or mood disorders, you have an opportunity to bring it up to their care team and work towards a solution. 
  • Stay on top of insurance. If you were the person who normally handled insurance, that’s great. However, if your loved one was usually the one who stayed on top of that, take the time now to familiarize yourself with your coverage and what it means. You’ll want to know what prescriptions, therapy session, and other unexpected things that may come up will be covered and what won’t. 
  • Be observant. Things can change suddenly with someone who has Parkinson’s and changes can also be subtle but important. Staying on top of symptoms, abilities, and moods is very important and making a note of any new medications can sometimes help track down different symptoms or mood changes.  
  • Be flexible. As your loved ones symptoms ebb and flow or progress, it’s important to be patient and flexible. Try to give them opportunities to be independent wherever possible and resist the urge to step in and do it for them out of frustration. 
  • Stay on top of medications. It’s so important to stay on top of medications for your loved one. Even if you think they are well enough to remember to take them, making sure they are taking them is important. If they’re forgetting their medicine, it can be a sign of them losing a level of their functioning and is crucial to note and discuss with their care team.