This week I want to highlight two different articles about the importance of self-care and attitude. The first article is from Rob Lowe who was a caregiver for his sick mother and talks about the emotional and physical toll being a caregiver takes on a person. The second article is about a professional football player who has created a positive impact with his outlook in life despite his many challenges. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.
It is becoming more common for aging Americans to want to age in place instead of a retirement home or a care facility. This means there are 40 million Americans caring for their aging family members. Although there are many positives of having a family member be a caregiver, including reduction in hospital re admissions and family bonding, it is a very difficult time both physically and mentally for these family members doing the caring. This is a fact that is not often discussed. The main point of this article is that caregivers must also practice self-care and we shouldn’t underestimate the stress that they face.
Are you a caregiver? That’s the person who doesn’t have the medical condition but takes care of someone that does. Who worries more about the person they’re caring for than themselves. Who can feel overwhelmed, unappreciated, and isolated. Whose stress, anxiety and even depression may exceed that of the person for whom they’re caring. And all of that can create a sense of hopelessness during a time you’re trying to provide hope. Especially if the caregiving is not short-term. This op-ed from Rob Lowe—yes, the rich and famous actor—outlines how being a caregiver for his mom impacted him and the lessons he learned from the process for which he is now actively advocating. He indicates there may be 40M others like him in the U.S. His advice? “To effectively care for someone else, we caregivers must first remember to take care of ourselves…the person you’re caring for needs you to be at your best.” I remember being the caregiver of a caregiver (my Mom) as my Dad dealt with Parkinsons until he passed away in 2014. So many questions. So much information. My role was to try and be the objective party, to help both of my parents understand the implications of treatment, to be dispassionate in a passionate circumstance, to support my Mom and offload as much as I could so she could be in the moment. All while my Dad was dying. It was not easy for her. It was not easy for me. But I do remember being cognizant of my personal needs for sleep, nutrition, community and in some cases distance. I used writing—updates to family and friends—as my therapy (someday I may turn it into a book). I knew if I was a wreck then I couldn’t do what I needed to do. If you’re in that situation, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength.
Eric Berry is a professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs who has gone through many ups and downs in both his personal and professional life. He has beaten cancer, had his house burn down and tore his ACL. Despite all of this, Berry is known to always be positive and upbeat even in the worst of situations. His attitude and outlook on life has a positive effect on people everywhere he goes.
“Fear nothing and attack everything.” That kind of attitude is the epitome of Resilience. It can help you overcome, but don’t overlook that how you address life’s difficulties (including chronic pain) can be a +/- influence on others. Thanks to Eric Berry for thinking beyond himself, and not just talking the talk but (quietly) walking the walk. What is your “ripple effect”?
To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn, at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-january-21-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.
Until next week,