Caring for Yourself as a PD Care Partner

Carolyn Allen Zeiger, Ph.D., ©2012 -----

Short run: It can be helpful to 1.) Avoid difficult situations and shut down our emotional reactions to protect ourselves until we are ready to deal with them—OR—2. Face the situation right off and take action. It depends on the situation and the persons involved.

Long run: After awhile, however, avoidance increases stress and creates new problems. At some point, we have to face the realities and do the best we can at any given moment.

In general: Change what it is possible to change, accept what you can’t change, AND learn to recognize the difference between the two!

Focus on problem solving when something can be done.

Focus on managing your mental/emotional/spiritual state when we must accept and live with the realities of a situation.

Use your own resources to take care of yourself—we forget when we are stressed!

Eat regular, healthy meals in a calm setting.

Get some exercise—anything! Walking is beneficial, do any activity your enjoy.

Use your time well so you don’t add to fatigue, mental confusion, etc.

Nourish yourself emotionally, spiritually in whatever ways work for you.

Keep your living area clean and comfortable.

Rest! Breathe!

Prioritize what needs to be done, drop inessentials; let some things go...

AND don’t demand too much of yourself; we can only do our best.

Do something creative, enjoy the arts, be in nature, watch funny movies, laugh with others, play, express your gratitude, meditate...Do it alone or with your partner.

Use external resources—Ask for help when you need it:

Get emotional support from loved ones (including the patient), even strangers and pets!

Seek the wisdom of others in figuring out what is happening and what to do. (In general, it works best to get TLC from family and advice from experts!)

Accept the offer from others for help with chores, errands etc. Involve other family members and friends. Tell people specifically what they can do.

Talk to others who understand your situation, tell them how you are feeling, what you are experiencing. Join a support group. Gain new perspectives.

And for the Person with Parkinson’s (PWP): You can help the care partner(s).

Manage your own care (at all levels) as best you can.

Offer help with anything in the lists above.

Communicate your needs and express thanks/appreciation.

Be sensitive. Remember: they have their own needs and problems.

To stay healthy, we ALL need to keep our giving and receiving in balance.

Patience! Give yourself a break and others a break. Make a special effort to ignore or forgive behavior that is irritating, etc. But if you are mad, don’t pretend you aren’t; work it out together, or let it go! Release stress: Exhale, take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, let it all out completely!