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Dr. Okun

Post of the Week: What is the best approach to addressing caregiver strain in Parkinson’s disease?

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A Swedish study by Caap-Ahlgren published in 2002 examined caregiver strain among a population of Parkinson’s disease patients. There were important correlations between caregiver burden and the Parkinson’s disease motor and cognitive statuses, how long Parkinson’s disease was present, and also if there were depressive symptoms in both the caregiver and the patient. Improving the functional status of the patient and treating caregiver depressive symptoms were considered the most important factors to address in caregiver strain.


Most experts recommended some combination of the following approaches to

Aggressively combat caregiver strain:


• Education about the disease and its course

• Reaching out for help at home from family, friends, community/religious organizations, and health professionals

• Exercise, diet, a normal sleeping pattern, and personal time away from the Parkinson’s disease patient each week (if possible)

• Support groups, and in particular caregiver support groups

• Seeing a doctor for appropriate treatment of caregiver depressive or anxious symptoms (pharmacological approaches)

• Counseling through a licensed clinical social worker or a counseling psychologist




1. Carter JH, Lyons KS, Stewart BJ, Archbold PG, Scobee R. Does age make a difference in caregiver strain? Comparison of young versus older caregivers in early-stage Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord. 2010 Apr 30;25(6):724-30.



2. Caap-Ahlgren M, Dehlin O. Factors of importance to the caregiver burden experienced by family caregivers of Parkinson's disease patients. Aging Clin Exp

Res. 2002 Oct;14(5):371-7.

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