Gonzales — Today’s female caregivers need to learn how to “take care of themselves as well as they take care of others,” Pamela Mong told a group of women gathered May 2 for the St. Elizabeth Hospital Advisory Council’s annual Women’s Health Luncheon.
The theme for this year’s event, held at Elegant Affair in Gonzales, was “Caring for Self While Caring for Others.”
Mong, a licensed clinical social worker, said that as women, “we are the greatest group of caregivers.”
However, many women don’t stop to take care of themselves and can find themselves overwhelmed and stressed, she said.
“We need to love ourselves as much as we love others,” she said.
Mong said women should define their needs and address those needs before health issues arise.
She suggested that women walk at least 20 minutes a day “for a mental health break to clear your mind.”
She encouraged women to take small breaks, find the time to be alone, ask others for help and “sometimes take time just to breathe.”
Many women taking care of children, adult parents and others will suffer from caregiver burnout.
She said signs of caregiver burnout include difficulty going to sleep, a loss of appetite, difficulty in making decisions, and increased aches and pains.
Women suffering from one or more of the signs of burnout for a continued period of time should see a physician, she said.
“We need to know our limitations,” she said. “It’s OK to ask for help.”
The event, which was attended by more than 240 women, was the last Women’s Health luncheon hospital President and Chief Executive Office Dee LeJeune will attend. LeJeune, who has been at the hospital for 15 years, is retiring in June.
Patrice Pujol, Ascension Parish school superintendent and an advisory council member, called LeJeune “a true servant leader ... who changed the face of health-care delivery in Ascension Parish.”