Planning ahead – Self-care for life

This week is self-care week.  The theme is “understanding self-care for life”.  But the question we want to know the answer to is “if I care for myself, then what difference can it make and why is it important?”

There are lots of elements to self-care and they are all important. In terms of looking after yourself: of course, you look both ways when you cross the road and you wrap up warm when you go out in the cold.  This is the first element of self-care.  Essentially, taking care!

Then there is the pharmacy thing!  When we get coughs, colds and sniffles, instead of taking ourselves off to the doctor or, heaven forbid, the hospital, we resort to the remedies we have in the cupboard.  Paracetamol and ibuprofen for headaches and pains and cold remedies for flu-like symptoms.  Of course, if these symptoms persist you must go to your doctor, but in the first instance do try your local pharmacist.  Here is some useful information to help stay well this winter!

But, the self-care I’m interested in, is more long-term.  I think this is what the self-care week theme is getting at and it means looking after yourself and your family forever. People who know me well, know I love a plan.  I used to say “hope for the best and plan for the worst” but as I get older, I just like a plan that considers all our good and bad days.  So, here are a few of the plans I have been putting in place for my family:

Does your family know your wishes or those of your older relatives?  If you (or a relative) were to suddenly get ill or have an accident, (let’s hope not), do your family know what and how you would like to be looked after?  These are important conversations to have.  To care for yourself, your family and friends need to know what you want.  This goes for all of us.  If you were admitted to hospital, what care would you like or not like?  If the worst should happen, have you registered on the organ transplant list and explained to your family what your wishes are?

If you have a long term condition that you live with and manage every day (for example Diabetes, Heart problems, Back problems or Arthritis), have you had a discussion with your health care professional to find out what you can be doing to make sure you keep well?  Do you know what to do if you start to feel unwell?  Here is some information about Care Plans.  Even if you don’t have a long term condition, do you think about how to get the most out of an appointment with the doctor (those fleeting few minutes you get).  Here are some tips to help you prepare – Questions to ask your GP

Do your older relatives understand about social care?  Social care can be care at home, in your home or going into a care home.  Usually I find people have very strong views about this but they rarely make plans early enough to self-care.  Considering the options ahead of time can make a big difference.  Just starting a conversation on this topic can help. Social care is a mire of complications and I would really love to hear from anyone who can either offer advice or share how they managed to self-care in this regard.

I have recently looked at a Preferred Priorities of Care Document  with my elderly mother.  It has helped her to voice her wishes.  With all her health care professionals involved, we have formally devised a plan for the rest of her life.  We are all clear what she wants and where she wants to be looked after.  She is less able to care for herself now but planning ahead has enabled her to self-care.

I would like to think that self-care week might inspire us all to plan a bit more or at least to start a conversation with our friends and relatives.  That way, we can all support each other to self-care and influence our own future.



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