Dynamic Choices » Family Wellness

Nurturing Buoyancy as a Caregiver


There are many images and metaphors that could be used to describe the experience of being a caregiver. I love images that that speak to the resilience that I have witnessed in the many caregivers that I know. Buoyancy reminds me of a lovely, multicoloured beach ball that, while it can be pushed under the water temporarily, it actively resists staying there.

The following information is taken from the talk I gave at the B.C.Parkinson’s Society New Diagnosis Day. It is a compilation of comments I commonly hear from people attempting to navigate well their journey as a caregiver. What reasons do you use for not caring for yourself or for not asking for the help that you deserve? What places are you making a difference but have forgotten to notice?

I am overwhelmed, overworked, and overtired! I know I need to change something but I can’t figure out where to start!

 Parkinson’s disease impacts every part of your life. Draw a circle, divide it into sections and label each one with the important parts of your life. As you look at each section, decide which one offers the easiest and most helpful small change you could make. Take the bold step and make this change to once again feel in control of your circumstance.

Stressed! Am I stressed? I haven’t had time to notice!

 Stress shows up in many different ways in our lives. Take time every day to stop and notice exactly how you are feeling. If you have a nagging health complaint, are feeling exhausted all the time, are withdrawing from your life or are angry and impatient most days, you are stressed. Do something concrete to care for yourself NOW rather than wait until things get worse.

Yes, I have lots of unanswered questions and concerns but I am afraid to ask them. They might seem silly and the doctor is really busy.

 YOUR questions matter. Keep a paper handy where you can jot down your questions as you think of them and take this page when you go to appointments. Speak up for yourself and ask for answers. If you are unable to find answers there, look for other resources that will help.

Self care. I don’t have time and, besides, it feels selfish to make time for what I love when there is so much else that is more important.

 Self care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Caregivers have a 50% higher rate of illness than the general population so take time to do the things that fill your soul and offer rest. Decide for yourself what this is and don’t be swayed by the well intentioned ideas of others.

Would I like some help? Of course I would? Do I ask for it? No, not really! I will ask for help when I really, really need it but right now I am “fine”.

Please don’t wait to ask for help until you are sinking! Create a community of support around yourself and your family now and then don’t consider it a sign of weakness to lean on them when you need to.

I keep doing things for my husband and trying to help but he doesn’t seem to appreciate it. I just can’t get it “right” and he often criticizes the things I am doing.







We all feel and experience love differently. Notice both for yourself and for your friend or family member with Parkinson’s disease what type of help feels most caring. It might be a kind and gentle touch, it might be kind and affirming words, it might be the offering of small gifts, it might be quality time spent together, or it might be simply doing something helpful. The book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is a great resource for this topic.


I feel like my wife and I are growing apart. I know we are still husband and wife and love each other but it often feels more like we are patient and caregiver.


Make time for intimacy and connection. Build a strong friendship, manage your conflicts when they happen, and honour each other’s dreams. Spend time together redesigning the dreams you have and look for ways to make them happen despite the disease.


I take regular breaks to do things on my own but they don’t seem to help. The whole time I am away I think about my mom and what might be going on at home.


Compassion fatigue happens when you care too much for too long. You need to find ways to put down your worry when you take a break rather than simply carry it with you.


Am I making a difference in the life of my wife? Hmmmm Perhaps I am, even though I am not perfect.


Everything you do makes a difference. Give up trying to do it perfectly. Just care and do your best. That is more than enough.