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2014 The Year of the Caregiver

By Judi Bonilla
Latino Elders

“Put the oxygen mask on first,” is the call from the flight attendants we hear every time a pilot prepares for take off. Coloque primero su máscara de oxígeno, is what I ask of all caregivers as we step into 2014. My hope is with this action each of can adopt the habit of self-care in honor of 2014 The Year of the Caregiver.

I hear a chorus of voices as if we were gathered around my kitchen table. “I know I should.” “I don’t have the time.” “There’s no one to help.”

I implore you to read the facts.

51% of Caregivers said they do not have time to take care of themselves.
53% of Caregivers said their health had gotten worse due to caregiving.
67% of Caregivers said they do not go to the doctor because they put their family’s needs first.

The facts are clear taking care of yourself is a priority. To take care of yourself is to insure quality of life for yourself, familia, and amigos. “Put the oxygen mask on first.”

2014 Caregivers Action Plan

Banish the words should, would, and could from your internal thoughts and your conversation. For many, these words are often connected with feelings of guilt, self recrimination, and blame.

Research shows, what you say to yourself affects your attitudes, habits, and health. The next time the words should, would, and could form in your thoughts…Take a deep breath in and ask yourself “What do I really want to say?” “What am I really feeling?”

As you exhale take advice from the Poet Maya Angelou, “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”

Practice better mental and physical health habits.

I use the word practice to encourage you to look at each habit as a way to learn and improve self-care habits to handle life’s events and prepare for the future.

The easiest and most inexpensive practice is to begin walking. Walk with a mindful attitude and focus your thoughts on your breathing. No talking, no planning, no replaying of a past conversation. Walk and focus on your breathing.

Simply keep your thoughts on breathing in and out. Start your mindful walking practice with five minutes once a day. Increase the time of your walk slowly with the knowledge your practice is building the foundation for self-care.

Begin Again and know that none of us was born with all the answers, skills, and wisdom needed to live a happy and healthy life. Each of us learns through experience and the wise learn from the experience of others.

Self-care is the art of treating ourselves with the same kindness, love, and understanding we give those we care for.

2014 The Year of the Caregiver is my wish for you as we start the New Year together.

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