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The Naomi Judd Interview (Page 2 of 2)

GB:  There’s a man that I think the world of, Dr. Andrew Weil, and you are on the board of The Weil Foundation. What role do you see nutrition and integrative medicine playing in a caregiver’s health and well-being?

NJ:  Andy and I are trying to get integrative approaches taught in 126 accredited medical schools because we know that stress is responsible for 85 percent of all illness. He had me on Larry King Live with him when his cookbook came out; he had me on to help validate for him. I always try to be a translator for the authority figures, and one of the things I said is that food is like the medicine of our future; when you open up your refrigerator door, imagine that you’re opening up your medicine cabinet. There are two parts to this—not only the nutraceutical qualities of food in preventing and assuaging illnesses (and of course we have more chronic illnesses than ever before, and since there are 78 million baby-boomers, this is really an issue), but it’s also about understanding that stress is who you think you’re supposed to be, and relaxation is who you are. Sometimes, as an RN, I would become overwhelmed; I would look at my patient load and it would look like a tsunami wave. One tangent of this and one of my biggest issues with nursing today is the nurse-patient ratio. When I would feel this cloak of responsibility (and I was raising two little girls at home by myself), I had to appreciate that I’m a human being and that I can only do so much. That was always a real tightrope for me because I think inherent in a caregiver’s personality, and certainly in a nurse’s personality, is this desire to alleviate or end suffering.

GB:   What do you say to caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed with these feelings?

NJ:   When I spoke at the ANA (American Nurses Association), I spoke to nurses about giving out of their overflow. These gals are overweight, they smoke and they eat out of the vending machines. I want them to do emotional house cleaning. By that, I mean first and foremost, if you look at the scriptures in Corinthians 1, it talks about how your body is a temple, and you have to realize that the spirit, the mind, and the body are all connected. I want these women (and I think this would apply to caregivers) to know that they have to become a detective in their life, realize what the negatives and the positives are; you have to get rid of what’s not serving you. You have to recognize if you have the “disease to please,” you have to have boundaries. Are you a perfectionist? Are you attached to your image? Being a caregiver, you have to take care of yourself, first and foremost, and you have to give out of your overflow. I just got back from New York, and it hit me when listening to the flight attendant who said, “If there is a loss of cabin pressure, be sure to adjust your oxygen mask before attempting to help others around you.” Now, that was counterintuitive to me and to a lot of the other people on the plane; but if you’re not conscious and able to take care of yourself, you’re not going to be good to anybody else.