Contributed By Heather Balducci
Living with Parkinson’s can make recovery from illness, injury or surgery a long and challenging road. Care partners of people with PD also need extra support when faced with their own health setbacks in order to ensure that they recover well and have sufficient time to rest and recuperate before returning to their caregiving roles.
It can be a challenge to ask for support from friends and family when faced with an unexpected need, and organizing support can also be difficult as well. Most people come to realize that their loved ones and acquaintances are more willing to help than they had expected.
Here are some steps you can take, as a Person with PD or care partner to best prepare yourself for a planned or unexpected surgery, illness or injury.
- Think of specific tasks that will help decrease your stress level. People often are met with loved ones saying “let me know if there is anything I can do to help,” and having a specific and helpful request in mind can help you direct people in a way that allows them to support you and meets your need. Examples of tasks could include home-cooked meals, short social visits, small tasks around the home, grocery store runs or rides to doctor appointments.
- Consider using a website like “Lotsa Helping Hands” (www.lotsahelpinghands.com) to organize support. This free site allows users to set up a calendar of care tasks, send the calendar and their request to loved ones, and communicate about their progress with those who are offering to help. If you are not particularly tech savvy, see if someone can set up and manage a care page for you.
- When hospitalized, many people need to spend time in a skilled rehabilitation facility before going home. Be sure that you are talking with the hospital staff assisting you in planning for a rehab stay. While in rehab, keep in mind that you may have a lot of free time, and it may still be helpful to arrange social visits with friends and family to help boost your mood.
- Find out about local services you could use for meals, in home care, house cleaning, or any other needs you may have. Most communities have a range of services that cover these needs, and a good place to start in finding these is your local Aging and Disability Resource Center at 855-673-2372 (Oregon) and 888-637-6060 (SW Washington). Also, please consider calling the Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon helpline for ideas and support in connecting to resources in your community.
- If you don’t already have an “Aware in Care” Patient safety kit – consider ordering one from the Parkinson’s Foundation (they’re free!). This kit is a great way to keep your medication information, emergency contacts, and information on Parkinson’s available in one place, and it also provides information on the importance of medication timing and avoidance of medications that complicate PD symptoms. Having a kit available and prepared can help you and your loved one minimize any complications associated with going to the hospital, ER, or a new medical provider.