Parkinson's Caregiver Creates Support Group with the Caregiver in Mind
Carolyn Monson, a rehabilitation liaison at HealthSouth Valley of the Sun Rehabilitation Hospital and a licensed practical nurse for 20 years, spends every day working in a rehabilitation hospital with patients overcoming a large range of debilitating illnesses and injuries. When her husband of 15 years, Steve Monson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in June 2015, she was surrounded by many wonderful healthcare resources to promptly get him help; however, while tending to his needs, she discovered one resource she was without – personal support from other caregivers who were facing similar challenges.
Under the guidance of HealthSouth Valley of the Sun Physical Therapist Trent Tripp, the hospital offers a support group for Parkinson’s patients, but there was not a support group directed toward caregivers, so she set out to create one.
“I realized I was lucky; some spouses are just lost,” said Carolyn. “I just thought why don’t I start a group and just see if there is a need or want.”
Held at the hospital once a month, the newly organized Parkinson’s caregiver group has brought great responses and allows caregivers to discuss challenges and opportunities their loved ones are faced with and features presentations on topics such as nutrition, medication management and exercise.
Most importantly, the group provides emotional support where caregivers can laugh, cry and find hope in one another’s company.
“We’ve really developed friendships,” she said. “Parkinson’s does not just affect the person with the disease. It’s hard on the spouse who’s living with them and trying to keep it together.”
According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, there are approximately seven to 10 million people worldwide living with Parkinson's disease, and that means there are as many caregivers looking for resources for their loved ones and themselves. A 2009 study titled “Predictors of Loneliness in Caregivers of Persons with Parkinson’s Disease” reported findings that Parkinson’s caregivers who attend support groups have more perceived support and less loneliness.
For more information on the Parkinson’s caregiver support group, please contact Carolyn at 623-707-3348.