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The Importance of Care Partners
Many Parkinson’s symptoms can significantly limit a patient’s ability to perform daily living activities (eating, grooming, mobility, etc.) and participate in social and recreational interests.
This insidious onset of disabling symptoms often requires Parkinson’s patients to have multiple care providers. They may receive outpatient occupational, physical, speech, and recreational therapies provided by qualified, trained professionals who specialize in specific aspects of the disease.
The role of a Care Partner is quite different from a care provider.
What’s important is establishing a partnership — a mutual understanding of what kind of help with daily tasks and emotional support the person with Parkinson’s wants and needs as the disease impacts your routines and lives.
While performing this critical role, the Care Partner’s quality of life can often be impacted by the disease progression. In fact, being a Care Partner can come at a significant cost. Some Care Partners may give up jobs, leisure time, and social activities to take care of their loved ones. Healthcare professionals often do not recognize the burdens of Care Partners because their focus is usually solely on the patient’s needs.
Keep an eye out for these symptoms of Care Partner burden:
- Poor sleep patterns
- Physical exhaustion
- Susceptible to colds or changes in weight
- Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
- Withdrawal from friends, family, activities that were once enjoyed
- Changes in mood, anxiety, depression, irritability
Tips for managing Care Partner burden:
- Allow time for yourself.
- Ask for assistance from a friend or family member
- Prioritize sleep, eating healthy, and physical exercise
- Allow for yourself to have alone time
- Set boundaries with yourself and others
- Care partner support groups
- Seek out Respite Care
Respite care services are typically covered by insurance companies and services can be offered in the home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day care center. The goal of respite care is to provide support to the Care Partner and hopefully prevent Care Partner burnout (National Institute of Aging, 2022).
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