The Emotional Side of Caregiving for a Loved One with Parkinson’s
Monday, 15th February 2016

Caregiving for someone with Parkinson’s disease can bring up a range of difficult emotions, many of which are challenging and often conflicting.

To start, juggling daily and long-term care needs can be quite stressful. As a caregiver you value being able to support your loved one, but you may also feel resentful of how much time caregiving takes up. Parkinson’s disease can also impact communication skills, especially speech and facial expressions. Miscommunication can create frustrating moments, and caregivers may feel guilty about losing patience. Furthermore, some caregivers also feel grief about how much Parkinson’s disease has changed their lives, but feel guilty about expressing that feeling.

If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, know that you’re not alone.  Foundation community members recently shared what helps them cope with difficult emotions.

  1. Talk to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. If an in-person or phone conversation is not possible, writing an email to a friend or keeping a journal can also help relieve stress.
  2. Have a healthy cry. For many people, crying is cathartic, and research tends to back up the emotional benefits of crying. There isn’t exactly a “right” or “wrong” way to cry, but connecting with a close friend when you’re upset can help you feel better.
  3. Take a moment just for you. Whether it be deep breaths or listening to soft music, take a moment to pause and reflect. Many commenters said that they find comfort in meditation, their faith or support from religious and other communities. Whatever your beliefs, a short break can be a helpful way to centre yourself on a busy day.
  4. Do something that makes you feel like yourself. Many caregivers say they sometimes lose themselves in the day-to-day of providing care. Watch a favourite movie, work on an art project or get out of the house for a walk, if you can.
  5. Connect with an online support group. Depending on your personal situation, you may not be able to attend a support group for caregivers outside of your home. Sharing with others online who are experiencing something similar can help you feel validated and connected to the community at-large.

Source:  The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research

To find a support group in your area visit your State based Parkinson’s organisation.