Parkinson’s Caregivers Struggling with Constant Alertness

Maureen Crossan found herself unexpectedly becoming a caregiver for her husband Patrick when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the young age of 50. She shared her experience of constantly monitoring his symptoms as each person’s progression with the disease varies, causing stress and uncertainty.

A recent report titled ‘Parkinson’s: Who Cares?’ shed light on the challenges faced by caregivers of Parkinson’s patients, describing them as “fighting against the tide” and feeling mentally and physically exhausted. The Department of Health acknowledged the vital role of unpaid caregivers and emphasized the importance of supporting their mental health and well-being.

Maureen Crossan emphasized the need for greater flexibility, education about Parkinson’s, and understanding from health officials in Northern Ireland. She expressed concerns about the difficulty in accessing specialized healthcare services for Patrick due to appointment availability issues.

Parkinson’s UK described the report as “difficult reading” and highlighted the significant struggles faced by caregivers on a daily basis. The organization stressed the importance of improving healthcare services to alleviate stress and pressure on caregivers.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative condition that affects muscle movement and communication between the brain and body. The main symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, and psychological issues. In the UK, over 153,000 individuals live with Parkinson’s, with more than 4,000 cases in Northern Ireland.

Sarah McCully Russell of Parkinson’s UK in Northern Ireland emphasized the need for an improved healthcare system to support individuals living with Parkinson’s and reduce the burden on caregivers. The charity called for the implementation of review recommendations and completion of the Regional Review of Neurology by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Maureen highlighted the challenges of contacting GPs for appointments and obtaining prescriptions, stressing the detrimental effects of medication delays on Parkinson’s patients. She called for action to address these issues and ensure timely access to essential healthcare services for Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers.