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How To Support Someone with Parkinson’s

When someone you know is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, or PD, it may be quite an adjustment to help care for them. PD is not the end of the world. There are several things you can do to help your friend thrive as they learn to deal with this progressive disease.

Rock Steady Boxing helps mitigate Parkinson’s symptoms with intense exercise programs. We work with PD patients daily and have been trained to manage symptoms. Through our coach’s experiences, we’ve made a list of ways you can help your loved one thrive as the disease progresses.

Learn About Parkinson’s Disease

Before your loved one or friend was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, you might not have known much about it. Take the time to find information on the internet about the disease, its progression, and the kinds of treatments out there. The Parkinson’s Foundation has a lot of great resources and tips about the disease and what caregivers can do to help.

Be Honest with Each Other

Oftentimes, one person is designated as a “nurse” or “primary caregiver” for the loved one. While this is helpful for centralizing information and care, it’s a very stressful role that does not have to be done alone. Many caregivers find that they have other family members or friends that want to help mitigate the situation. Take advantage of their generosity and work together to build a care plan that involves everyone. This can be in the form of providing transportation to and from appointments, meal preparation, running errands, helping with chores around the house, or creating a routine of regular outings and activities.

Join an Exercise Class

As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, the person affected with have issues with motor skills, impaired mobility, balance problems, and speech issues. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle have been shown to fight against the progression of these symptoms and slow their spread. Not only does exercise help with promoting healthy life, but an exercise class can add socialization the Parkinson’s patient may be missing. Rock Steady Boxing is a high-intensity workout designed specifically for those affected by Parkinson’s Disease. We focus on boxing drills with no contact and our coaches are trained to help with the effects of symptoms.

You can be a cornerman or cornerwoman for your friend or loved one with Parkinson’s, or find an exercise program or activity you can enjoy together. Walking, dancing, swimming, or cycling are all other activities that can be beneficial for Parkinson’s patients

Enjoy Their Company

Your family member or friend with Parkinson’s disease may feel lonely and suffer from depression following their diagnosis. It’s important that you still maintain your relationship like you’ve always had in the past. Take them out shopping, eat at a restaurant, or go to a movie. You may need to find places that accommodate their needs, so try to be conscious of their limitations.

When spending time with your friend, talk about other things than Parkinson’s Disease. Catch them up on the latest gossip, read a book together and discuss it, and talk about family and friends. Being able to see past their Parkinson’s Disease symptoms and seeing them as the friend they’ve always been will help their mental health and overall quality of life.

Be Patient and Flexible

As the condition progresses, Parkinson’s patients will experience motor symptoms that may cause them to move slower, and take more time completing tasks. Symptoms will have flare-ups and you may find that your plans with your loved one are canceled because of a bad day. Try your best to be flexible and patient with them as they try to complete things independently before jumping in to help out of frustration.

Keep an open dialog going with the Parkinson’s patient to see how you can help to remove burdens off your loved ones or primary caregiver’s plate. Can you come over and dust and vacuum once a week or hire someone to do yard work? Putting out the offer can help relieve some of the stress that daily tasks create for someone with Parkinson’s disease.

Share Calendars and Notes

In a support system with multiple caregivers and friends contributing to the well-being of the person with Parkinson’s disease, open communication is key. There are many calendar apps that can be shared with multiple people to make appointments and assign tasks to caregivers.

It’s also important to share notes. If multiple people are taking the Parkinson’s Patient to therapists and doctor’s appointments, be sure to share notes from the appointments. Also, take notes of when you notice worsening or changing symptoms so they can be brought up to a healthcare provider.

There Are Many Ways to Help Your Friend or Family Member with Parkinson’s Disease Thrive

Rock Steady Boxing shares lots of tips, experiences, and educational tools about Parkinson’s Disease in our seasonal magazine “In Your Corner.” Our online magazine inspires and provides hope for people and their families who are fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease to live a full life. To read our previous copies or learn more about Rock Steady Boxing, click here to read more.