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Basic caring skills for people looking after someone with Parkinson's disease



"Together we feel happy and sad, we laugh and cry and get mad at each other"


  • §Few carers have any training for the role and most learn how best to help by ‘trial and error’. You should try to have realistic expectations of the amount of care that is required (now and in the future) and of what you can provide.

  • §The needs of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will tend to change over time and their abilities can also fluctuate from hour to hour. Consequently their care needs are not constant. You should try to encourage independence, offering support and help when required, but not taking over. Being a carer does not mean doing everything.

  • §Understanding the nature of PD, its treatment and the range of services available is necessary if you are to provide effective care. The more you understand, the easier it will be to work through day-to-day problems and to play an active rather than a passive role in management.

  • §Symptoms of PD are often made worse by stress and pressure. Try to be a calming influence and avoid pressuring them to speed up. Help them to have the time and space to accomplish tasks by themselves.

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  • §As ‘a partner in care’, you need to work closely and confidently alongside all the health and social care professionals involved so that the needs of the person you are looking after, as well as your own needs, are best met. The partnerships you form should help to maintain the independence and dignity of both of you.

  • §Knowing how to get the best from PD medication is essential. Ask the doctor, specialist nurse or pharmacist to explain this to you and check that the person you are caring for is taking their drugs as prescribed. Try and accompany the person with PD to medical appointments so that you can discuss concerns at first hand.

  • §Caring involves looking after psychological as well as physical needs. Try to ensure that family and friends maintain contact and keep memories alive through visits, photographs and letters. It is likely to be helpful and more enjoyable if you do things together.

  • §Always remember that everybody needs help at times and you should not be hesitant about asking for it. The best way to provide understanding, emotional support and physical help will depend on what you and the person you care for decide.


    The Parkinson’s Disease Society (telephone 020 7931 8080; http://www.parkinsons.org.uk) and Carers UK (0808 8087777; http://www.carersonline.org.uk) can provide information and support to carers.

    Useful books include:

    Carer’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to looking after ill, disabled and elderly people, published in 1997 by Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0 7513 0464 6.

    Useful websites include:

    CARE - Caregivers of people with Parkinson’s

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This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris