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Open Arms Academy

April Is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month: Useful Tips For Caregivers

Nearly every major disease has a special month dedicated to raising awareness and making people more sensitive to the topic as well as to people living with the disease. During this time, people raise money, do marches, and organize events. April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. However, for people living with the disease and for their loved ones, every month of the year is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month. If you’re caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s, here are a few useful tips to keep in mind. 

What is Parkinson’s disease and what causes it?

Parkinson’s is a fairly common disease. Nearly one million people in the US alone are living with it, and this number is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030. Worldwide, more than 10 million people are affected. 

Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. It is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain, which leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine that plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear, but most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible. 

The incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated 4% or people are diagnosed before they reach 50. Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than women. Although there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.

 

What are the benefits of in-home care?

Many people with Parkinson’s choose to remain in the comfort of a familiar home, close to family, friends, pets and neighbors. However, as a caregiver, meeting their needs while also navigating your own life can sometimes be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to face this challenge alone. A professional caregiver can significantly improve your loved one’s and your quality of life. Here are a few ways they can help.

Nutrition tips

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for people with Parkinson’s so that they don’t develop additional health issues as a result of poor nutrition. An in-home caregiver can help prepare and serve nutritious meals, assist with feeding and cleaning up afterwards. 

Personal hygiene

As Parkinson’s affects movement, many people living with the disease find it difficult to take a trip to the bathroom alone, to take a shower or keep up with a reasonable level of personal hygiene. A professional caregiver can help with all of these, as well as keep a careful eye on your loved one and inform you of any changes that may impact their health or safety. 

Mobility and safety

As Parkinson’s often causes an imbalanced gait resulting in trips and falls, maintaining safe mobility in the home is extremely important. Caregivers can help your loved one safely move around, even help them get some gentle daily exercise. 

Light housekeeping

While it’s important to note that an in-home caregiver is primarily there for the wellbeing of your loved one and not as a housekeeper, they can assist with general housekeeping activities, such as cleaning up after a meal or doing the laundry.

Running errands

A professional caregiver can help your loved one run errands, such as going to the grocery store or to the post office, as well as make doctor’s appointments. 

Support for your loved one and you

A caregiver becomes part of the family, building a meaningful relationship with your loved one and engaging in personal hobbies that bring joy, such as gardening and gentle exercise. Sometimes even having a companion to watch TV with can elevate your loved one’s mood. And while they spend meaningful time with your loved one and help a little bit around the house, you have more time to focus on your own life.

 

What are some of the benefits of working with the Open Arms team?

  • Each client family is assigned their own care coordinator to supervise all care and manage scheduling.
  • Reassurance of financial protection with a bonded and insured company.
  • You can always speak to a real person when you call, no matter the hour.
  • We can accommodate last minute schedule changes.
  • Enjoy more personal relationships with a local Chicagoland business.
  • Your caregiver always gets the latest training and personal care techniques.
  • Our care team is led and supervised by a registered nurse.

Useful resources for caregivers

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s is by no means easy, so it’s important not to forget about your own mental health and life and make sure you get the support that you need.

Helpline 

The specialists at the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline assist people with the disease, caregivers and healthcare providers with navigating every aspect of Parkinson’s, offering emotional support, sharing current medical information and guiding callers to local resources. The Helpline is available at (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636) or at helpline@parkinson.org.

Hospital kit

The Aware in Care Parkinson’s hospital kit helps caregivers ensure their loved one gets the best possible care while in the hospital, whether the visit is planned or unplanned.

Parkinson’s knowledge is power

You can access the Parkinson’s Foundation’s entire collection of fact sheets, videos, books, newsletters and podcasts here

Support groups

Sharing your experience with people who are going through a similar situation can be really helpful. You can browse Chicagoland area support groups here

If you’d like to talk to one of our experts, reach out to us today!

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