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Many people care for loved ones with Parkinson’s at home, especially in the early stages of the disease. If your loved one has recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, you might be overwhelmed and uncertain how to get started with caring for them at home. Below are our seven top tips for learning how to care for Parkinson’s patients at home.
Let them maintain a sense of independence.
Once their loved one receives a diagnosis, many people rush to take care of every task for them, including personal grooming and feeding. While this urge is understandable, it’s important to let your loved one continue to take care of themselves while they are still able to do so. For example, adaptive clothing for women and men will let them continue to still dress themselves, while anti-tremor cutlery can help them eat independently. Trust us — you will be helping them with these tasks plenty later on.
Serve them a healthy diet.
Constipation is a common side effect of Parkinson’s, so it’s important to feed them a fiber-rich diet to encourage bowel movements. Their diet should also include a lot of calcium to fend off osteoporosis and keep their bones strong. If they have difficulty swallowing due to loss of motor function, fix them soft, moist food or shakes that are more easily swallowed. If they find it exhausting to eat a large meal, serve smaller meals more often. Note that the common Parkinson’s drug Levodopa is best taken on an empty stomach, so you need to schedule it to be taken around their meals.
Encourage them to exercise.
Their doctor will likely prescribe daily exercises that they need to complete in order to help retain muscle mobility, so make sure that they stay on top of this practice schedule. They should also regularly exercise their face muscles, especially the jaw and mouth, to keep them limber. This can involve making exaggerated facial expressions or reading with very exaggerated mouth movements.
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Help them engage in activities.
Just because your loved one has received a Parkinson’s diagnosis doesn’t mean that they need to cease all activity immediately. In fact, many people with Parkinson’s can still participate in their beloved hobbies, with or without modifications, in the early stages of the disease. You should also encourage them to participate in stress-relieving activities, whether that is meditation, guided breathing or another relaxing practice. In fact, you might find it helpful to join them and get some stress relief yourself.
Join a support group.
As a caregiver, you are under a lot of stress, and no matter how kind your family and friends are, it’s hard to grasp what caring for someone with Parkinson’s is like unless you’ve been through it. Thus, many caregivers find it beneficial to join a support group of other caregivers who have a loved one with Parkinson’s. You can find an in-person group in your area or join a virtual one online in order to get emotional support and share practical advice.
Focus on life outside Parkinson’s.
It’s easy to let Parkinson’s overtake your life together, especially as the disease progresses. Try to focus on the good moments and remember that you both have a life after Parkinson’s. Discuss other topics with your family and friends and try to participate in fun experiences as much as you can. Take trips while you are still able to do so together and check items off their bucket list when possible. You won’t regret having these happy memories to treasure later on.
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Hire professional help if need be.
Depending on how quickly your loved one’s disease progresses, you might eventually reach the point where you no longer have the time, physical strength and stamina, and/or medical skills to care for them full-time — and that’s perfectly okay! If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to look into hiring outside help, whether that is a part-time home health aide or a private duty nurse.
If you are looking for clothing for a patient with Parkinson’s, be sure to check out adaptive clothing from Silverts. We offer all sorts of clothing for day and night, including women’s elastic waist pants and nightgowns for women. U.S. orders over $20 ship free, so don’t be afraid to stock up on adaptive clothing for your loved one!