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Growing Online & Virtual Opportunities for Caregivers

I recently participated in an online meeting where staff members of various Parkinson’s organizations were commenting on the forced necessity of moving support, education, and exercise programs online to continue to serve the Parkinson’s community. Many staffers stated how surprised they were that online offerings were even more well attended than the usual face-to-face meetings.

Seeing & meeting the need of the Parkinson's community

As a care partner who has started support groups in my area, both for those living with Parkinson’s and those caring for people with Parkinson’s, I’ve always known that there were many, many more people at home who wanted to attend support groups and educational programs.

Before these strange and difficult times, I thought it was pretty obvious that many folks stayed home due to a variety of factors: lack of transportation options, inability to leave a loved one home alone, lack of mobility, anxiety about the physical challenges of leaving one’s home, and so many more. I witnessed many people just fade out of attending in-person programs because of these challenges.

My heart would break to meet a fellow caregiver who wants and needs support but must stop attending meetings because their loved one cannot be left alone. I always wanted to do more for them, but I really did not know how to provide ongoing support for them.

Many Parkinson's organizations created online programs

If there is one bright side to these challenging times, I would say it is that most Parkinson’s organizations, local and national, have rushed to create online programs for our community. It was an enormous crescendo starting in March. At first just a trickle of offerings online then a few more – and now, months later, there so many options! It is a great feeling to watch US and international organizations providing support groups, cafes, and conferences online!

There is a tremendous number of online programs for those living with Parkinson’s: exercise programs for all fitness levels, yoga, tai chi/qigong, meditation, stretching, art classes, Rock Steady boxing, dance, singing/chorus, voice practice, and more! There are hundreds of opportunities for people with Parkinson’s to stay active, to be engaged and to keep up their spirits.

Online programs can benefit caregivers

Caregivers can take advantage of these programs for those with Parkinson’s, too! Why not join in with your loved one for an exercise, yoga, or meditation class? Or take the time that they are engaged with the online class, to take time for yourself.

Programs specifically for caregivers have increased, too - not just with support options, but a variety of programs. There are support groups, social gatherings, workshops, and conferences all focused on supporting the caregiver.

Give yourself permission to try something new

As much as this time has challenged us to find a new direction, give yourself permission to try something new. It is easy to drop into a routine that does not allow for us to make time for ourselves. Take time to pay attention and evaluate your schedule to find opportunities to support yourself. A small investment in our personal care can make a huge impact on our mind, body, and spirit.

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