There are roughly 33 million dedicated caregivers in the United States, and the economic value of this resource is thought to be approximately $350 billion annually, according to current research. You can learn more about this here: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/14/who-cares-for-the-caregivers/
Connie Carpenter Phinney has two children with her husband Davis Phinney, Taylor and Kelsey. As a board member of the Davis Phinney Foundation, Connie helps to inform and create awareness that will help others in the PD community, especially caregivers. Here, she shares her personal tips for spouses and children who are partners in care for someone living with Parkinson’s.
As a caregiver, you are providing a valued and invaluable service to your loved one. You didn’t ask for it, but suddenly or gradually, here you are.
Recently I was able to co-host a breakout session with Mary Willis that was entitled Tools for the Caregiver. Mary took care of her parents who both had PD, and lost her husband to cancer. She is a hospital administrator in Palm Springs.
As a cyclist, I ruminated on the various tools required to keep a bike finely tuned. A spoke wrench. A chain tool. A crescent wrench. What tools keep the caregiver on the road and functioning at a high level? Mary and I touched on the following points by way of introduction to the topic:
Tools for Caregivers.
- Keep it upbeat. Be optimistic, keep it fun and don’t dwell in the negative.
- Care. You can’t always give, but you should always strive to care.
- Time. Take time for yourself. Get enough rest.
- Time out. Take a time out when you become frustrated or angry. Resist the temptation to say something you will regret. Keep your dialogue positive and constructive.
- Calendar. Aid with planning and scheduling. Post the calendar in an obvious place.
- Advocate. Study, research, and ask questions. Knowledge is power.
- Communicate. Keep the communication lines open with your loved one and the full medical/support team.
- Ride share. Caregivers must assist in organizing rides whenever feasible.
- Enable. Continue to encourage self-reliance and independence.
- Exercise. You both need it every day – whether together or apart.