Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that affects an individual as one starts aging. It has no one particular reason to occur, nor does it have a set of defined symptoms, that alerts a potential patient. Parkinson’s disease mainly is a neurodegenerative disorder that predominantly affects the dopamine producing neurons, thereby affecting an individual’s central nervous system.
It mainly is a disorder that is marked with age, and cannot be cured but can be treated. As the disease progresses, the patient begin to progressively lose their motor skills thereby impeding movement. Moreover later stages of the disease lead to other neurological concerns, mainly due to the lack of dopamine secretion the brain begins to produce; this includes chemical imbalances, depression, drastic mood swings, irritability, etc.
Whether you are personally suffering from Parkinson’s, or are caring for someone with the condition, the disease may affect one’s relationships. This need not happen immediately, but rather can happen at any stage throughout the progression of the condition. Relationships between partners or family members, including children are most likely to be affected.
While this is not a rule for all patients, and not everyone experiences a strain in relations, the condition can affect mood, self-image and communication. Differing coping reactions and expectations following the diagnosis or treatment can also have an impact. Adjusting to the diagnosis and new role reversals can put stress on relations, while others may run into problems after several years.
While many people who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and are/were sharing their journey with someone, said that the relationship grew stronger. However, the drastic lifestyle and personality changes one undergoes can have severe effects on two individuals. How a partner reacts to the diagnosis, emotional changes, changing roles in relationships, such as becoming a caregiver are serious changes in life.
Another serious aspect of Parkinson’s Disease which many might sideline, is the changes partners experience in their physical relationships, these may be less or even more important than before, as the feeling to make most of the time together arises. Sexual problems can have an effect on either the patient or their partner. A person with Parkinson’s disease may have sexual problems due to the physical effects of the condition such as coordination and/or speed and motor issues, and emotional swings.
This impact may go beyond the patient and the partner, research has shown that familial life, such as kids and grandchildren have also faced changes. While many have said that they were significantly impacted by an elder having Parkinson’s disease, others did not notice much difference.
How To Respond As A New Caregiver
Say whatever, dealing with Parkinson’s is a challenge for everyone involved. In order to cope properly, it is a good idea to think about how to disclose the issue with members of the family, to make care giving more intensive and appropriate. This will help make people aware that the disease has complex challenges that go beyond the common physical manifestations.
But caregiving is an important and difficult task, which involves physical as well as emotional exhaustion. It is important to take care of oneself first, something caregivers often times forget. Maintaining one owns mental and physical health by making and keeping your own medicals in check. Join support groups, and or social activities that help you vent and get a change in surroundings.
More so, maintain a sense of independence, and have alone time, take breaks and plenty of rest, and ask for help wherever needed! By getting help, a caregiver can lessen their sense of isolation, and it gives you more confidence in your own caregiving ability. Having help increases your ability to think creatively and helps you get those needed breaks
It is also important to maintain the relationship you had with the patient, hence it is a good idea to participate in activities where both individuals can be as equals, and ensure constant communication, which can be challenging as well as rewarding task! As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the roles change and the person with Parkinson’s may go from being an independent head of the household to a very dependent person requiring a significant level of care. However, research shows that despite high levels of strain, caregivers with good quality relationships have reduced depression and better physical health. Remember, as a caregiver your service to your loved one is beyond measure in terms of love, depth of care, and concern.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Parkinson’s it is a good idea to seek professional help to build an appropriate plan to tackle the situation without it having significant impact in ones day to day life. While Parkinson’s is not curable, it is treatable. The main aspects of treatment is proper caregiving, however it is essential that the caregiver does not lose his or her sense of self, lest he/she would not be able to give their best, causing unnecessary stress and built up frustration.