23rd Annual Parkinson’s Symposium shines spotlight on caregivers

Written by Healthy Living News. Posted in Our Community

People with Parkinson’s disease often must depend on the support of loved ones to help them cope with and manage their disease as well as assist them with everyday activities—and that reliance tends to increase as the disease progresses and symptoms worsen.

For caregivers, this new, unexpected role can place considerable demands on their time, energy, and financial resources, and finding the right balance between their own needs and the needs of their loved one with Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging.

To help Parkinson’s caregivers in our community access all the support, information, and resources they need, the
University of Toledo Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Research Center and the Parkinson Foundation of Northwest Ohio will present the 23rd Annual Parkinson’s Symposium on Saturday, April 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m.) at Parkway Place (2592 Parkway Plaza) in Maumee, Ohio.

Themed “Sailing through PD,” this year’s symposium will focus on strengthening the care partnership that develops between people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. “This theme highlights the way caregivers serve as a ‘life preserver’ for their loved ones with Parkinson’s, helping to keep them ‘afloat’ through the different stages of their disease,” explains Kristen Schuchmann, MRC, LSW, LPCC, movement disorders social worker for the University of Toledo Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Research Center. “The purpose of the symposium is not only to give caregivers the resources and information they need, but also to help people with Parkinson’s learn what they can do to better help themselves and make life as easy as possible for their caregivers.”

In developing the content for this year’s symposium, the planners reached out to support groups to find out what information would benefit them. In response, they were given a wide variety of topic suggestions, such as how to plan financially for the future; what assistance is available to them at home; what equipment they can use to make their lives easier; how they can plan ahead for Medicaid, assisted living, or long-term care if needed; when a person with Parkinson’s should no longer drive; how to ensure their loved one is safe at home; and many others.

“We also learned that many caregivers simply want more information on the disease itself so they can better understand the symptoms their loved one with Parkinson’s is experiencing, how to manage medications, how to prevent falls, and anything else they need to know to help their loved one through daily tasks,” Schuchmann adds.

Another frequently expressed concern is an emotional one that touches both the caregiver and the person with Parkinson’s—finding a way to balance the responsibility of caregiving with other needs and obligations, including the very natural desire to have personal time. “Most caregivers want to be with their loved one who has Parkinson’s disease as often as possible, but they also need time to be alone without guilt. At the same time, people with Parkinson’s need to strike a balance between the care they require and their own need for alone time. It can be a tough balancing act for both,” Schuchmann says.

All of these topics and more will be addressed at the 23rd Annual Parkinson’s Symposium. One of the event’s main speakers will be Chris Cremean of Caregiver Resources Group, LLC, who will present the topic “Facing Change, Making Choices.” The featured speakers will also include Dr. Lawrence Elmer, director of the University of Toledo Gardner-McMaster Parkinson Research Center, who will touch on his personal and professional experiences in caring for people with Parkinson’s in a talk themed “Physician, Son, Caregiver.” In addition, research nurse Stephanie Wilson will provide the latest updates on Parkinson’s medications that are on the horizon in a presentation titled “Research: Caring for a Cure”; Trina Slatinsky of Right at Home will present “Trimming the Sails: In Home Respite Care’; caregiver support group leader Kristen Schuchmann will present “Caring for Each Other,” and representatives of the Parkinson Foundation of Northwest Ohio will discuss the organizations events, education, and services.

The 23rd Annual Parkinson’s Symposium is free to those who are affected with Parkinson’s or care for someone with the disease. However, a freewill gift of $10 per person will be appreciated. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required by Friday, April 17. Register online at pfnwo.org or by phone at 800-438-5584. ❦