When you find out that your loved one is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, it is a life-changing and scary moment for all. Dealing and living with a debilitating disease like Parkinson’s is not easy for anyone involved and changes people’s priorities. Finding out how to support your loved one as well as what kind of care and assistance they need is critical. The hard part can be finding where to even start.

While this is a very scary time for you and your family, there is help out there for you. Below are three valuable and important first steps that will get you started on your journey to helping your family member with this life changing disease.

Educate yourself and them

We know that you want your family member to have the best quality of care possible. Start learning all you can about the disease and how your life and theirs will now change. There are many resources out there to help you.

A great resource that can help is the American Parkinson Disease Association. This is a non-profit that is the largest grassroots network that is fighting Parkinson’s disease. On their homepage you can enter your zip and find local resources near you.

The National Parkinson Foundation is another good resource. They discuss the latest treatments, breakthroughs and studies with regards to Parkinson’s so you stay up to date.

Ensure that you are in constant contact with your loved one’s doctor and that they are getting regular check-ups since they are the best resource on how the disease is progressing with your family member. Staying on top of your loved ones medication is also very important.

There is a great list of books and various resources that both you and your loved one can check out about the disease on Michael J. Fox’s Foundation website here.

Cooperative Home Care serves many clients who have Parkinson’s disease, at every stage of disease progression. Read more about how we tailor our care to your loved one’s needs here. (link to, Types of Care>Disease Specific Care, on our website)

Staying updated on the ins and outs of the condition, like the disease progression, symptoms, and challenges, will help you understand what your loved one is going through and will prepare you to seek the management that is right for them.

Work through your emotions

There are several things to consider once this diagnosis is given. How will this impact your relationship with each other? What about other family members and friends? How does this affect their home life? Both of your careers if applicable? Do you want to tell anyone? When do you tell them? It is important to discuss these things and be on the same page about these issues. It can be beneficial for you together or separately to see a counselor or therapist to discuss the changes, your emotions and the best way to deal with this new change in your relationship.  

Seek out support

While you are helping your loved one with this new diagnosis, it’s important that both of you seek outside support from each other. You can’t understand what they are going through and they can’t understand what you are going through. It can be immensely beneficial for you each to join support groups to talk about your experience and get insight and help from others. Places to find support groups for you and/or your loved one can be their doctor, local hospitals, local community calendars and various organization that deal with Parkinson’s disease. If they do not wish to go somewhere or are unable to travel there are online support groups, forums and websites that they can join to find the support they need.

There are separate support groups for caregivers as well that you can attend or find online. If you decide that you want to attend a support group together, those are out there as well.
Starting with these three steps can provide you with the foundation you need to care for your loved one who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. This journey will not be easy and there are rough days ahead, however there is hope and a lot of resources out there for you and your loved one.

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