In October, I had the honor of participating in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women as a panelist during the “Family Healthcare CEO: Are You Ready to Lead the Charge” session. The panel offered me an opportunity to interact with women—all of whom expressed concern about the health and well-being of their families. This was not surprising. Women are often the primary decision makers for their families’ health, a tremendous responsibility for one person.
My conversations with women at the Conference mirror those I have had with hundreds of other women across the country. They confirm that women’s roles include caregiver, care manager, friend, companion, surrogate decision maker, and advocate—often all at one time and all of which create challenges to balancing home, work, and family needs. Women are the family’s healthcare CEO. That’s like being the family quarterback, and that means your job is to make the calls and pass the ball. You don’t have to do everything for everyone all by yourself.
It is important for women to focus on their own health first. Just as flight attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks prior to helping others, women must first take care of their own health in order to be fully able to attend to the health of their partners, spouses, children, parents, and friends.
The first big step you can take to improve your health and well-being is to simplify your life. Carefully consider what you bring into your home and life. You may find that there are everyday items that you can do without. For example, items like unread magazines and clothes that you no longer wear can clutter your home and your mind. The clutter can also take up time: think about your daily tasks and how much of your time is spent on unnecessary activities or errands. Managing your time and household more efficiently can have a positive impact on both you and your family. Most importantly, remember to take time to fill yourself with good food, good friends, healthy activities, and good thoughts.
It is vital for women to stay informed about ways to take better care of their health. Some additional tips to keep in mind: manage stress, eat healthy, get regular health exams, and check your medicines. Unfortunately, many women find that taking care of their health becomes even more difficult when they are without health insurance. Resources are available to help uninsured women and their families gain access to quality healthcare. For assistance:
Talk to healthcare professionals in your community (i.e., doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and even school nurses for children’s needs). Also, government and public health officials are usually great sources for learning about local and national resources.
Lastly, remember to enjoy life and your family. After all, laughter is the best medicine.