April represents much more than Springtime and the college basketball Final Four. It is also National Parkinson’s Awareness month. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is devastating and can be alarming for family members who are now in the role of care provider. Care providers assume an array of responsibilities ranging from transportation to the doctor, providing physical care and even finding housing solutions to accommodate their needs. These tasks are vitally important to a person’s quality of life. This disease progresses in a gradual manner, often forcing the care provider to lend assistance for decades. Caretakers should not lose sight of the fact that they also need some personal time. Caring for oneself boosts health, energy and spirit.
The Risks of Caretaking
Studies show that the physical health as well as the emotional health of care partners is at risk when they provide extensive care for another. Such risks manifest in various forms ranging from a visit to the emergency room to high blood pressure, heart problems and extreme mental stress. Caretakers often endure poor sleep cycles and a weakened immune system. Insufficient sleep can lead to many problems ranging from irritability to poor work performance, falling asleep at the wheel etc. Sometimes these problems force caretakers to find alternative housing options for patients to be cared for in a home setting.
Self-care and Care Necessary to Help Others
Practicing self-compassion is essential to preventing burnout and providing the best quality care for the individual in need. Caretakers should reserve time for themselves, take note of stress triggers and recognize the fact that they can only do so much. In the end, a care provider who is overexerted will only sacrifice their ability to lend critically important assistance to the Parkinson’s patient they love so much. So, take some time this April to celebrate those who are persevering through Parkinson’s as well as those caring for them.