There’s been a lot of focus on women this month. March is Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day took place on March 8. It has been exciting to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions women make and advocate for a gender-equal world. But one thing our team at denova would like to see more of is a shift towards prioritizing women’s health.
Women are natural caregivers who often forget to care for themselves. A 2018 study by GCI Health, HealthyWomen, and Redbook Magazine revealed that nearly half of women neglect their health, citing a lack of time to focus on it. The report also revealed that women generally make most of the healthcare arrangements for their families, but two-thirds said they only felt somewhat in control of their own health.
The ‘Sandwich Generation’ especially feels the pressure to put others first, and women in this situation have even more pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sandwich Generation consists of those who care for both their children and aging parents – financially, physically, or emotionally. A report from the Pew Research Center found that more than one in ten adults with a child under 18 is also caring for an aging parent, about 60% of them are women and nearly 75% are also employed. These caregivers – mostly women – average 21 hours per week providing unpaid caregiving on top of a 40+ hour workweek.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on caregivers in all aspects and the National Association of Caregivers 2020 report shows that the number of caregivers in the U.S. is on the rise. Multigenerational needs are even more apparent as adult children are moving back home to provide elderly parents with care. The pressures of the pandemic are mounting on women of the Sandwich Generation as support is scarce. The effects of this stress are starting to take their toll on their health.
Effects on Women’s Health
Oftentimes, women become consumed by their role as caregivers and leave their own needs behind. The already stressful job of caring for multiple generations combined with added pandemic stressors leave women’s health on the back burner. Female caregivers can develop chronic stress. This heightens the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Caregivers also experience more sick days, weaker immune systems, slower healing, higher risks of obesity and mental health decline.
Tips for Prioritizing Women’s Health
Do you see yourself as a woman who has been neglecting her health? If so, make a commitment today to prioritize your health and wellness. Here are some tips:
- Identify when you are feeling overwhelmed and find healthy ways to deal with anxiety, such as exercising, taking a bubble bath or indulging in your favorite treat.
- Take care of yourself – eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity.
- Keep in touch with friends and family – set aside time to grab dinner or go on a hike with your friends.
- Get in the habit of saying “No” to requests that will carve into your free time. And don’t feel guilty if you cancel plans. It’s important to make time for leisure in order to recharge. If need be, take one self-care day a month.
- Ask for help. Women tend to feel they have to ‘do it all.’ Whether you need help with childcare or assistance with caring for your parents, reach out to others or hire professionals to lighten your load and help you to persevere.
New patients can call denova Collaborative Healthcare at 602-777-6337 for a free, 15-minute wellness consultation. You can also click here to make an appointment online. Remember, if you are experiencing a crisis, please call 911 immediately.