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The Nancy Snyderman Interview (Page 3 of 3)

The Nancy Snyderman Interview

Gary Barg: What is the one most important piece of advice you would share with a caregiver?

Nancy Snyderman: I know that you are probably overwhelmed with all kinds of decisions. But I want you to know that as part of this process, be in the moment as much as you can. You are going to remember things that today may seem minute. But they are going to come back and be some of the greatest gifts in your life. And the other thing I would say is that you will find that as a caregiver, you take care of everyone on the planet and you are on the back burner; that is not sustainable. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is self-preservational. Find the time to do that. You will have more to give in the end.

Gary Barg: It is self-preservation. It is so true. The Stanford University study said that 40 percent of caregivers of people living with cognitive disorders will die before their loved ones, solely due to the effects of stress.

Nancy Snyderman: And we now know that stress is an independent risk factor for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, you name it. Stress releases bad chemicals in your body that make you eat the wrong things, make bad decisions and disrupt sleep. Stress can be controlled. Here is one thing that caregivers have to really remember: you can only get so much praise for doing the right thing, and at some point guilt is a terrible motivator. No one is going to say to you, “You have done such a great job, why don’t you knock off for the day?” And there is nothing weak about saying to someone, “You know what? I am exhausted. Can you cover me?” Or, “I need some fresh air.” You have to constantly think about your balance as a living organism and the balance of the organism that you are caring for. And there has to be a seesaw back and forth so there is a net sum game.


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