Women of all ages often find themselves as primary care givers.  Whether it’s for children, parents, or a spouse, the goal is to be able to provide the best care possible.  Doctors say part of that is learning to take care of you.

“If we aren’t preventative and proactive in caring for ourselves and making sure we take a minute to recognize when we are overwhelmed or when we are stressed than that can causes more disease and more illness later on and it certainly makes it harder to help care for others too,” said Dr. Tiffani Dennis.  

Dr. Dennis is a physician at Sentara Martha Jefferson Internal Medicine.  She’s seen women, of all ages, fall into the trap of caring for those they love, but not themselves.

“Women tend to be the ones who take care. Women take on more responsibility in the home. Women take on more responsibility for their children, their spouse, and their parents. So, because we are the ones that take care of everyone else we put ourselves lower on that list,” said Dr. Dennis.

In reality though, women should be doing exactly the opposite.

“The caregiver prioritizes the person they are taking care of but that’s often backward, I think,” said Dr. Dennis.  “If you practice self-care that can mean lower blood pressure, less anxiety and less depression.”

Whether a mom with young children or an older adult caring for a friend, spouse or parents, taking time for yourselves will only make you a better caregiver for those you love.

“I tell people find what works for you.  If it’s just taking an hour of time to do whatever makes you feel rejuvenated. You have to find what it is to builds you up and that includes going to the doctor to maintain your health as well,” noted Dr. Dennis.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, please email healthquestions@nbc29.com