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Similar to your loved one who has Parkinson's, it is important to make sure you, as a carepartner, are receiving the support you need to live a healthy life. Your own health can be a shared responsibility between you, your loved one, your family and friends, your health community and other communities that you belong to. It begins with doing all you can for yourself, and then learning to accept help, when help is needed.
Sometimes is it hard to accept defeat. Know that asking for help does not mean you are weak or incapable. Instead think of it as getting your needs met. Remember that this is a long distance race, not a sprint. Caring for a person with PD really does mean caring for yourself.
Some ways of gaining support is by linking with other carepartners or caregivers either through a support group or a telephone buddy (e.g., PDLink). PSBC offers both of these services for those affected by Parkinson’s. Our support groups and PDLink program may be something to consider if you haven’t already done so. Having peers with whom you can share information and support can significantly improve your coping capacity. It can also create a sense of togetherness and community.
Feeling alone and isolated can be avoidable; when you reach out to others, you open the door for others to reach out to you. Here are a few things that family and friends can do for you when you ask for and accept their help:
- Providing a listening ear
- Giving a carepartner a break by offering to stay with her/him loved one
- Inviting the carepartner to go out
- Offering specific help, such as shopping, yard work or banking
- Being supportive of decisions made by the carepartner
If you are currently a carepartner, start by recognizing that you are one, that you are not alone and that there is a range of supports available to help you.
You owe it to yourself.
You owe it to your loved one.
You owe it to the people who care about you.
Taking Care of You – Carepartner Self-Care Checklist
- Caregiving can be very stressful - acknowledge this.
- Take care of your own needs. Take a regular break from your caregiving duties to rest & renew energy.
- Set aside regular times to do things you enjoy like, taking a bath, visiting with friends, watching a TV show from start to finish, reading, getting your hair done, listening to music, catching up on your sleep. Remember this is your time to rest and recharge your batteries.
- Exercise - walk, swim, jog, play golf, work in the garden. Do some stretching. Try Tai Chi or Yoga.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Good nutrition is important to your health.
- Have regular check-ups. Talk to you doctor about any health problems. Use medications with care.
- Try to get enough sleep. Although it may be difficult, sleep is important for staying healthy. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try breathing or relaxation exercises (there are books or tapes to help).
- Build a support network. Keep in touch with friends. You need a life apart from your caring role. If you cut yourself off, you are also cutting off the support that friends will give you. And you will find it hard to pick up the pieces of your life when you are no longer spending so much time caregiving. You might like to join a support group. It is a good way to meet new people who have the same concerns you do.
- Don't try to be superman or superwoman. Be realistic. Think about what really matters most to you. Let the less important things wait and learn to say "no".
- Think about your supports and use them. Talk with other family or friends who could share the responsibilities.
- Find out what resources are available in your community and make contact before or when you need help.
- Reward yourself. Remember to congratulate yourself for all your successes, however small you feel they are.
Adapted from Fraser Health Handbook for Caregivers.