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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Help Yourself So You Can Help Others

Sep 01, 2014 06:24PM

If you’ve traveled by plane, you’ve heard the flight attendant say, “If the oxygen mask drops from the compartment above, please place the mask on yourself first, before helping others near you.” Translation… I must take care of myself first, before I can take care of anyone else effectively.

At some point, most of us will likely find ourselves caring for a loved one suffering from issues associated with aging. Deborah Shouse’s feature article, “Conscious Caregiving: Nurture Yourself While Helping Another,” on page 22, offers practical ideas for how to do it well. Although being a caregiver to a loved one may often feel like a burden, if we learn to care for ourselves, we might realize that the caregiving process can be rewarding.

This situation hit home recently with the illness and hospitalization of my step-mom. My 84-year-old father was at her bedside for eight to 10 hours a day, almost every day, for over a year. With the increased stress, emotional burden and physical exertion, his health suffered as a result. Over time, he was able to cut back his daily visits to just a few hours a day and even took a day off every once in a while to rest and care for himself. Although he wasn’t the primary caregiver in this case, it is a tangible example of how we need to be aware of our own wellbeing when caring for others.

The lesson is not lost on me and my siblings, because dad is now living alone and although still he is independent, our concern is for his ability to care for himself as he continues to age. With a daily phone call and weekly visits, I’m able to stay in touch to make sure he’s doing well. With the help of neighbors and my brother and sister-in-law, who live close by, he is provided with daily meals and social engagement. I’m grateful that Dad is doing well and I’m sure he would be the first to remind us all to “place the mask on yourself first” when you care for others. You’ll find a list of online resources for caregivers on page 24.

One of my favorite forms of self-care is making sure that I exercise regularly and participate in a yoga class as often as I can. This is National Yoga Month, and if you think yoga is only for the fit or flexible, I encourage you to see our Yoga Guide on page 28, sign up for a gentle, basic yoga class and give your mind, body and soul a treat.

You’ll find plenty of ways to nurture yourself and your loved ones in this issue. Let our advertisers know you saw them in Natural Awakenings as they help you feel good, live simply and laugh more.

Dave Korba, Publisher

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