Being a care partner for someone living with Parkinson’s can be challenging. While we can predict and prepare for some of these challenges, there are those that can surprise us, such as the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. For many, being a care partner now looks a little different because of changes to virtual doctor visits, in-home support or therapy, and other aspects of caregiving.
Care partners in the MJFF community shared their tips on how to care for themselves and their loved ones during the pandemic:
1. Try to be patient. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and sleep deprived due to the pandemic. We’re experiencing loads of new information, long work hours, and incredible uncertainty. Give yourself and your loved one with Parkinson’s extra time, space and compassion.
2. Get or stay active. Whether on your own or with your loved one, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Even with social distancing or gyms closed, you can work out at home or take a long walk with your partner.
3. Get support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer emotional support. If helpful, consider seeing a therapist virtually or joining an online support group. (There are groups both for people with Parkinson's and for care partners.) These can be a great place to share feelings and experiences and well as gather advice. Also ask for help where useful – perhaps another member of your family could pick up groceries or call the insurance company so that you can take some time for yourself.
4. Take care of you. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important (and sometimes most difficult!) things you can do as a care partner. Consider scheduling regular breaks, social time (virtual coffee chats or book clubs, for example) and exercise.
5. Find a “pet” project. Some people and their care partners find it fun and helpful to take on a project together – anything from selecting a recipe and making dinner together to cleaning out a closet to adopting a new plant or pet.