Taking Care of Yourself First
Last week when I wrote about the ten tips of living well with a chronic illness I quickly saw an opportunity to expand on each item over the next ten weeks. The first on the list was Take Care of Yourself First. As I have mentioned before that shortly have our diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease my PWP came home and said she was going to ride her bike across Iowa. After my initial attitude of yea right, I realized that she was serious. I did not know how I was going to do it but I wrapped my head around it and said ok but I’m going too. Ever since that first experience of getting off the couch, buying a bike and getting into shape physically I have learned that taking care of yourself is a huge commitment to both your PWP and to yourself. I have also learned that it is not just taking care of yourself physically, it is also taking care of yourself mentally and spiritually.
As I recently learned when my PWP was having Deep Brain Stimulation surgery it is easy to let yourself go. I found myself not sleeping or eating properly and exercise was put on hold. Fortunately, because of the examples of many care partners that I have met over the years, I have learned that making time for sleep, eating, and exercise is a priority. Without these three elements in place, you may begin to lose grasp of the mental and spiritual side of being a care partner.
Remember this - On an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too.
As I have related a few of my experiences I always keep in mind that it is not about me. I know that maybe it should be, but it is not. However, as care partners and givers we must take care of ourselves. There has been much written on the subject including these articles from the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. https://www.davisphinneyfoundation.org/?s=caregiving
What are your experiences? Please share and send us your story so we can share it with others.