What’s A Parkinson’s Care Partner & Why Are They Important?

Aug 10, 2022

When a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it can be difficult to know how to help. One of the most important things you can do is to become a care partner. Also known as a “caregiver,” a care partner provides physical, emotional, and, sometimes, financial support to a person living with Parkinson’s.

This role can be both rewarding and challenging, but it’s vital to the health and well-being of the person with Parkinson’s. In this article, we dive deeper into what it means to be a care partner and share tips on how to be an effective one.

What Is a Parkinson’s Care Partner?

A Parkinson’s care partner supports and assists a person with Parkinson’s disease. They can be a spouse, family member, or even a friend.

Also, you don’t need a license, medical training, or certification. Rather, you must rely on commitment and communication to build a mutually beneficial partnership with someone living with PD.

What Do Parkinson’s Care Partners Do?

Care partners have varying levels of involvement. Some may be solely involved in making decisions about the person’s care and treatment.

In other cases, the care partner may be the primary caregiver, responsible for all aspects of the person’s care. Or, the care partner may simply provide occasional assistance as needed.

Man caring for a woman that's living with Parkinson's Disease

Regardless of their level of involvement, care partners play an essential role in the lives of people with Parkinson’s disease. Take a look at the variety of ways that you can help as a care partner:

  • Monitor symptoms and medications
  • Coordinate medical appointments
  • Assist with activities of daily living
  • Provide emotional support
  • Provide financial support
  • Advocates for the needs of the person living with PD
  • Plan and coordinate care
  • Plan and coordinate transportation
  • Educate the family on PD
  • Provide hands-on care
  • Manage finances and insurance
  • Arranges for home care or hospice services
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Support the patient through difficult times
  • Help maintain a positive outlook
  • Provides a listening ear and patience
  • Is a source of strength and hope

Why Are Care Partners Important?

Parkinson’s care partners are critical in helping those living with PD with physical, emotional, and financial strains.

A woman's hand holding a man's hand that's living with Parkinson's Disease

Physical Support

Parkinson’s disease causes involuntary or uncontrollable shaking and stiffness. As a result, people with it have difficulty with balance and coordination, making it almost impossible to do simple tasks without help. As a Parkinson’s care partner, your role is to provide this help.

Of course, you can contribute to the physical well-being of the person living with Parkinson’s in more ways than one. Those with Parkinson’s need to eat right and get regular indoor or outdoor exercise. You can help create menus, schedules, and accountability for the loved one with PD.

Emotional Support

Besides physical help, a care partner provides moral and emotional support. The challenges of Parkinson’s are often overwhelming and may lead to anxiety and depression. In addition, it can be an isolating disease — some may not be able or want to participate in activities they once enjoyed.

As a care partner, you can help the person with Parkinson’s stay connected. For example, you can facilitate activities with their loved ones, support groups, or even their own sense of self. Also, you can make sure they’re getting proper rest as sleep disorders are common with PD.

Financial Support

A Parkinson’s care partner can contribute to household expenses, help to cover medical costs, or watch over the person’s finances. By being a source of financial stability, you can help your loved one focus on getting the treatment they need to live a full life.

Resources for Care Partners

As a care partner for someone with Parkinson’s disease, many helpful resources are available to you. Here’s a helpful list:

Publications on Parkinson’s Caregiving

Online Educational and Support Resources

General Caregiving Resources

Parkinson’s Care Partner: Next Steps

There’s not one way to be a good care partner. How you play the role may differ from others, but as long as you’re giving the best care a partner can provide, you’re making a significant change in your loved one’s life.

For care partners, check out these valuable resources. Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles (PCLA) supports over 57,000 Angelenos with Parkinson’s disease. We know how Parkinson’s can take a toll not just on the patients but also on their families. We aim to connect you with educational materials, support groups, and activities. At PCLA, Parkinson’s care partners are never alone, so feel free to connect with us — we’d be happy to help.

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