Living well as a Parkinson’s care partner can be challenging, but there are many steps you can take every day to make the journey a positive one. Here, we’ll highlight seven strategies to remember as the new year begins.
#1 — Stay connected
Seek support from people with whom you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and concerns. Your support system may include people you trust, such as specific family members, friends, or individuals from church or work. Support groups can be helpful, as can classes and gathering with small groups of fellow care partners who can encourage and inspire you.
#2 — Ask for help
You do not have to be everything for your loved one with Parkinson’s. Accept and ask for help when you need it. Be specific when you reach out for help and let people know what they can do that would be most helpful.
#3 — Practice gratitude daily
Train yourself to shift your attention to things that bring you joy instead of concerns over which you have no control. Call a friend, write a gratitude letter, perform a random act of kindness, or donate your time to a cause. When you experience things that bring you joy, whether big or small, take the time to savor them and be fully present. By building little moments of gratitude into your daily routine, you will begin to see that your world is filled with things to appreciate, and you will see life as a care partner in a much more positive light.
#4 — Communicate
Adapting to life with Parkinson’s requires a true partnership between you and your loved one. Ongoing, open communication fosters closeness and connection. Practice honest communication about your needs and theirs, big decisions, and your future together.
#5 — Look for signs of burnout
Pay attention to your emotions and check in with yourself, noticing whether you’ve lately been feeling more irritable or angry, socially withdrawn, anxious and/or depressed, or if you are experiencing other red flags such as missing your own medications or medical appointments, having trouble sleeping at night, catching frequent colds, and more. If you notice that your health is compromised, now is the time to make positive changes or reach out for help.
#6 — Be an advocate
When you advocate for your person with Parkinson’s, be it during a medical appointment or in a conversation with friends, it increases awareness of Parkinson’s, builds community, and creates the opportunity for people to solve problems together. Advocating for your person with Parkinson’s often involves educating others about what your person experiences. It would be exhausting to teach everyone you interact with about Parkinson’s, but finding people with whom you can share your story is a step toward creating a more inclusive environment.
#7 — Take self-care seriously
This is often a challenge when your person with Parkinson’s is constantly on the top of your mind and needs a great deal of care; however, you cannot give something you don’t have. To love and care for them, you must love and care for yourself. To ease their discomfort and pain, you must be able to ease yours as well. Self-care is not indulgent or selfish. Instead, it is your ticket to living well. And when you live well, you’re much better equipped to help your loved one do the same.
WANT MORE CARE PARTNER STRATEGIES?
Your role as a care partner will evolve throughout the years, but in each stage, it is essential to equip yourself with tools, advice, strategies, and support to ensure that you and your loved one live well. We designed our new Every Victory Counts® Manual for Care Partners to give you just that. Request your free copy here.
Thank you to our 2022 Peak Partners, Amneal, Kyowa Kirin, and Sunovion, as well as our Every Victory Counts Gold Sponsor AbbVie Grants, Silver Sponsor Lundbeck, and Bronze Sponsors Supernus and Theravance for helping us provide the Every Victory Counts manual to our community for free.