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Ways to support a loved one with Parkinson’s

Supporting a loved one with Parkinson's disease

If a loved one is living with Parkinson’s or an associated condition, it can be difficult to know how best to support them to live their most comfortable and independent life. There are various ways to learn more about their condition, and accepting support from people outside of the family, such as professional carers, can also help you become more knowledgeable. At Helping Hands, we’ve been supporting our customers living with Parkinson’s to remain independent at home for over 30 years, so we really are the experts to trust for your loved one’s care.

Educate yourself

One of the most important ways you can support a loved one living with Parkinson’s is to learn everything you can about the condition. This will ensure that you have an idea of what to expect as your loved one’s condition progresses. There are excellent resources available that can help you to discover how their, and your, lives will change, such as Parkinson’s UK, or you can chat with your healthcare professional. Parkinson’s is a movement disorder, which Parkinson’s UK describe as “a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time.” Attending your loved one’s medical appointments with their permission, will also ensure you have an opportunity to learn more about what they’re experiencing and what the future may hold.

Offer your help

Being able to support your loved one emotionally and physically is vital, however practical help with everyday tasks such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning will also be incredibly supportive. These types of tasks can become harder to manage for someone living with the physical effects of Parkinson’s; however they may not want to ask for help outwardly, so being vigilant will let you know if they’re struggling.

Promote exercise

Exercise has many benefits for everyone, not just for someone living with Parkinson’s, as exercise helps the brain to use the chemical dopamine more efficiently. Dopamine is crucial in effective movement and is directly linked to Parkinson’s because it is lacking in the brain of people with the condition. This is because the nerve cells that make dopamine are no longer able to do so. Being fitter can also support balance, memory, and overall strength in people living with Parkinson’s, and will be a great reason to go out and enjoy the local surroundings or discover new places together.

Help them to retain a sense of normalcy

Parkinson’s interferes with day-to-day life and can make someone feel that there is no normalcy left. This can be made worse because others around them focus on what is going to happen in the future and how to deal with the symptoms, rather than focussing on what the person can still do. It is understandable that loved ones want to step up and help out as much as possible, but ‘taking over’ and doing everything for them will be counter-productive in the long run. The person may also feel that they are now being seen only as a person with Parkinson’s rather than who they always have been. Taking their mind off their condition whenever possible is helpful for making them feel like themselves again – for instance by undertaking hobbies and interests that you’ve always enjoyed together.


Sometimes the person living with Parkinson’s may be looking for nothing more than a kind shoulder to cry on, or a comforting ear to listen to them talk about how they’re feeling. By offering emotional, as well as practical, support you’ll be helping them to come to terms with their condition and perhaps voice some of the fears they have for the future. They may also feel angry or frustrated and want to ask, ‘why me?’ Even though you won’t have answers for everything they want to say, by letting them talk and by actively listening, you’ll understand more about how they’re feeling and how you can support them most effectively. Let your loved ones know you’re there for them and keep an eye out for signs of anxiety or depression.

Join support groups

Finding local support near you can also be an important outlet for both the person living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. Meeting and socialising with other people who understand the challenges being faced can reduce isolation and potential loneliness, and the sharing of information around treatment options and resources done at support groups can be beneficial. Parkinson’s UK have a facility to search for local support on their website.


Encouraging a loved one to continue to socialise can be very important to their emotional wellbeing, as they’ll have an opportunity to see friends they used to before they were diagnosed. This can make them feel more like the person they’ve always been, and mean they are able to continue to see loved ones and friends that are important to them. They may be reluctant to see people because their needs have changed and they feel that they don’t want to be treated differently, but by letting people who care about them understand how better they can support them will be helpful for everyone concerned.

Look out for deteriorating symptoms

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition which means that symptoms will deteriorate over time. Family members should be aware of how symptoms can change and tell a medical professional if they notice a difference in their loved one’s coordination, balance, speech, ability to walk, or general fatigue. By keeping an eye on their well-being and being vigilant, loved ones can ensure that support is available whenever needed. Depression can also be common in people living with Parkinson’s and people close to them can make sure that any concerns are acted upon quickly. Going with them to medical appointments can also ensure they feel fully supported and are confident enough to attend.

Be patient

Being patient with someone when they are living with Parkinson’s will mean they feel valued and more like the person they have always been. Whether they are struggling with their speech, mobility, or carrying out tasks, they will undoubtedly appreciate you remaining calm and not getting irritated with them. Speech therapy may be beneficial if they are struggling to speak clearly or loudly, and while they are speaking no-one should be tempted to finish their sentences or display signs of impatience, as this will diminish their self-confidence. Active listening is key, as well as smiling and maintaining eye contact. If they are struggling with speech then they may also appreciate help to use other forms of communication, such as email or messaging apps.

Our incredible carers can make such a difference to the life of someone living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones, as they can support in the home on a visiting basis from just 30 minutes per week. We also offer live-in care, all of which means support in a person’s own home with every aspect of their daily routine. We have branches across the whole of England and Wales, so request a call back via our website or give us a call to discover more about our home care services.