Caregiver with arms outstretched radiates heart, listening ear, book, pom poms.

What Makes a Good Caregiver?

Caregiver (KAYR-gih-ver): A person who gives care to people who need help taking care of themselves. Examples include children, the elderly, or patients who have chronic illnesses or are disabled.1

Honoring the importance of caregivers

November is National Caregivers Month. This month I reflect on the importance of the caregivers in my life as I manage my Parkinson's disease (PD).

Caregivers play a critical role in helping a person with PD fight the disease. But what are the qualities of a good caregiver? Below are the qualities that I consider the most important:

What qualities should a caregiver possess?

Be knowledgeable about Parkinson's

PD is a complicated disease. It has many different symptoms and affects people in a variety of ways. There are also many different treatments for PD. In other words, there is a lot to learn.

Having a caregiver who is knowledgeable about PD can be enormously beneficial when managing the disease. With knowledge comes understanding of the struggles someone with PD faces each day and greater awareness of their needs.

Be patient with Parkinson's symptoms

Caring for someone with PD certainly requires a lot of patience. When movement is slowed and everyday activities take longer, it can be frustrating.

Having a caregiver with a lot of patience makes it easier for the person with PD to deal with the challenges posed by slow movement.

Be an advocate for people with Parkinson's

A good caregiver serves as an advocate for the person with PD. They accompany them to the doctor’s office and ensure that their needs are being met. When those needs are not being met, the caregiver speaks out and seeks redress.

Be a motivator for people with Parkinson's

Fighting PD can be difficult and there are times when one wants to give up. A good caregiver is someone who motivates the person with Parkinson's to continue the fight and keep confronting the challenges he/she faces daily with the determination and grit necessary.

Be respectful of the need for independence

Needing a caregiver can be a big adjustment for someone who values their independence. A good caregiver understands and tries to allow the person with Parkinson's to maintain as much independence as possible.

If the person with PD can do something on his/her own, the caregiver doesn’t intervene. On the contrary, the caregiver should encourage the patient to be as independent as they can be.

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