It’s not always easy to know how to help someone with tardive dyskinesia. Yet there are many ways to provide support, such as offering to help with daily tasks and practicing active listening.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a chronic condition that causes involuntary body movements.

It may develop as a delayed side effect of certain medications prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Other types of medication, such as those prescribed to treat Parkinson’s disease, may also cause it.

People with TD experience involuntary movements in one or more parts of their body, such as their face, limbs, hands, or feet. These movements may range from a slight tremor or tic to movements of the whole body.

Symptoms of TD may continue even after stopping the medication that caused it. These symptoms may limit a person’s ability to complete certain activities and can negatively affect their well-being.

Read on to learn how you can help support someone with TD.

Learning more about TD can help you understand how the condition may be affecting your loved one.

The severity of symptoms and the specific body parts affected vary from one person to another. Depending on your loved one’s symptoms, involuntary movements may affect their:

  • sleep
  • speech
  • ability to chew or swallow
  • balance, mobility, or dexterity
  • ability to complete specific tasks at home or work

The condition may also affect their mood, sense of self, and comfort in participating in social activities.

Building your knowledge of the condition may help your loved one feel understood and supported.

You can learn more about TD from organizations such as:

You can also speak with a doctor to learn more about the condition.

TD may affect many aspects of your loved one’s life at home, at work, or in social settings.

Talking with others about their experiences may help them process some of the challenges they’re facing.

Let your loved one know they can share their experiences and feelings with you. Try to listen without judgment and resist the urge to offer unsolicited advice.

There may also be times when your loved one would rather not talk about their condition. Talking about other aspects of life, watching a movie together, or participating in another activity may provide a welcome break.

Involuntary movements from TD may interfere with daily living activities, including:

  • performing self-care tasks, such as getting dressed, exercising, or eating
  • doing household chores, such as cooking or cleaning
  • completing tasks at work
  • walking
  • driving

The challenges of living with TD may also take a toll on your loved one’s energy, mood, and mental health. They might find it hard to manage routine responsibilities while coping with the symptoms of TD.

Consider asking your loved one whether they would welcome your help with certain tasks.

For example, you might offer to:

  • assist them with daily self-care activities, particularly if you live with them
  • prepare meals or snacks for them to stock in their fridge or freezer
  • help them with laundry, vacuuming, or other chores
  • drive them to appointments
  • run errands for them

They might also welcome your help in arranging other sources of support.

For instance, you might offer to:

  • research assistive devices or adaptive tools that could make tasks easier for them to complete
  • help arrange assistance from a personal support worker, cleaning service, or other support services
  • update other members of their social support network about their condition and ask for their help

Remember that some people with TD may feel more comfortable than others accepting help.

Some people may have developed strategies to manage challenging tasks on their own.

Many people with TD experience stigma and feel self-conscious about their symptoms, which may lead them to withdraw from social activities or relationships. Isolation may add to the challenges they’re facing.

Encourage your loved one to stay in touch with family, friends, and other members of their social network.

They might also find it helpful to join a support group or online community for people with TD. Connecting with other people who live with this condition may help them feel less alone.

Their healthcare team may be able to recommend an online or in-person support group. Your loved one may also use social media to connect with others online.

It’s important for your loved one to work with a doctor or other healthcare professional to manage their symptoms. Encourage them to get the care they need.

Helping to care for someone with a chronic condition can be challenging. It’s crucial to recognize and respect your own needs and limits while taking time for self-care.

If you’re a caregiver or care partner for someone with TD, try to:

  • get enough sleep
  • get regular exercise
  • eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  • spend time doing activities you enjoy

Consider asking family or friends to help meet your loved ones’ support needs so you can take regular breaks.

You might also find it helpful to speak with trusted friends, family members, or a counselor about the challenges you’re facing. Your doctor may be able to recommend a counselor who has experience supporting caregivers or care partners of people with chronic health conditions.

You might also join a care partner support group or use social media to connect with others online.

TD causes involuntary movements, which may interfere with a person’s physical functioning, daily activities, and quality of life. Support from loved ones is important for helping them manage this condition.

You can help care for someone with TD by learning more about the condition, inviting them to talk about their experiences, and listening without judgment.

They might welcome your help with daily living activities, such as self-care tasks, household chores, or errands. You might also be able to help them find assistive devices, adaptive tools, or professional support services to help them manage challenging tasks.

Encourage your loved one to stay in touch with members of their social support network and attend regular checkups with their healthcare team. They might also benefit from joining a support group or online community.

Recognizing your own needs and limitations as a care partner is also important. Try to take regular breaks to address your self-care needs. Reach out to members of your community for support.