Parkinson Disease: Coping Tips for Caregivers

In the early stages of Parkinson disease, your loved one can likely handle most tasks without help. But over time, you may find yourself taking on more and more responsibilities. Keep in mind that you can’t take good care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself, too. So be sure to take breaks when you need them. It’s not being selfish. It’s vital.

Two women friends talking, having coffee and dessert.

Give yourself a break

It’s OK to spend time outside your role as caregiver. It may not feel right at first. But even simple things can help ease stress. Try these tips:

  • Go to a movie or concert.

  • Have a meal with friends.

  • Read a book or write in a journal.

  • Take a walk.

  • Pursue a hobby.

  • Take a long bath.

If you feel depressed

Taking care of your loved one may leave you feeling frustrated, sad, or worn out. This isn’t a sign you’re doing something wrong. It’s completely normal. However, be on the lookout for signs of depression. These include feeling sad, guilty, tired, or helpless most of the time. Other signs include trouble sleeping, and loss of interest in activities or food. If you notice these signs in yourself, or in your loved one, talk to a doctor. Depression can and should be treated.

Accept help

Caring for someone with Parkinson disease takes more than a single person. So learn to accept help when it’s offered. And be willing to ask for help when you need it. People who care about you and your loved one really do want to help. You can also talk to the doctor or a social worker about options for respite care (temporary help). This can range from adult day care to a home health aide who cares for your loved one a few times each month.