Caregiver webinar offers help and hope to hundreds

“Thanks so much for posting that webinar; I would have never had that available to me in the small northern community that we live in. Thanks to all who worked to put that together.” – Jackie Miller

Jackie Miller is a care partner, along with her husband, to an aunt and uncle, one with dementia and the other with Parkinson’s.

Family members and other caregivers play a major role taking care of people living with neurological health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Many caregivers would not have it any other way. Yet, caregivers often need help to manage their own needs. And we know that stress can have a serious impact on the health of caregivers.

In December 2015, Parkinson Canada, in partnership with Alzheimer Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada presented the live, interactive webinar Taking Care of Yourself through the Ups and Downs of Caregiving. The webinar can be viewed at any time through the online archive by anyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection.

More than 150 people from across the country logged in to hear caregiving experts Bonnie Schroeder and John Parkhurst, care partner for his wife Margot, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, share the physical and emotional changes that can come with caregiving. They explored the changes that can arise with each stage of caregiving; the range of feelings (the ups and downs) as a natural part of caregiving; the ways to spot stress and other mental health concerns; and tips for staying healthy and well.

Bonnie outlined the characteristics of the six stages of caregiving: The expectant caregiver; the new caregiver; the committed caregiver; the experienced caregiver; the transitioning caregiver and the treasuring caregiver. John shared his experiences as a care partner, highlighting three key messages: You are not alone, others are going through this too. What you are feeling – good, bad and ambivalent – is normal. And, there is help available.

“Ninety-five per cent of those who participated in this webinar reported that the information and advice given in the session was useful to their day-to-day life,” says Grace Ferrari, Senior Manager, Education & Support, Parkinson Canada. “I would encourage anyone who is caring for a person with Parkinson’s to listen to this recording – anytime, anywhere.”

Caregivers would also benefit from the accompanying downloadable self-assessment resource, available online. “We know many caregivers feel stress; as many as 35 per cent of caregivers who care for someone with a neurological condition, report feeling stress,” says Grace Ferrari. “Caregivers feel pressure and anxiety when part of their life is not in balance.” The caregiving resource can help you determine your areas of stress and create a personalized plan to stay healthy and well.

A subsequent caregiver webinar on finding help and navigating through the health care system and social services is scheduled for broadcast in the spring. Further details on the next webinar will be posted on www.parkinson.ca, once they become available. In addition, a French-language caregiving webinar is currently being planned for the spring.

Parkinson Canada is dedicated to helping people living with Parkinson’s and those who care for them, enjoy the best life possible. Visit www.parkinson.ca for a range of information and resources for those living with the condition, and for caregivers. You’ll also find an interactive map, which leads you to resources, such as support groups, in your community. You can also contact our National Information and Referral Centre at 1-800-565-300 or send us an email at info@parkinson.ca. Health professionals, including professional caregivers, are encouraged to access additional resources at www.ParkinsonClinicalGuidelines.ca.

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