Dental Floss and Self-Care for the Caregiver
This week, I walked away smiling from one of those places that I least expected it, the dentist’s office. Although my dentists (a husband and wife team) are very nice people, having those regular check ups are traditionally not my most favorite times of the year. So why the smile? And what does it have to do with caregiving?
That verbal “gold star” for dental hygene (which I have not always been good about in the past, thanks to a disliking for flossing) was important to me for several reasons. Most notable in my mind is that, despite dealing with all of the stress related to Mom’s failing health, I have actually made the time necessary to improve my own self-care.
In the past, I would, like many in my family, delay medical visits and take a hit-or-miss approach to health issues. But after Mom’s diagnosis, I could physically feel the effects of stress. For the first time in my life, I felt “old” and began to see that some of the activities I enjoyed (and took for granted in the past) were becoming increasingly difficult to do. I also started worrying about whether I had the fortitude and stamina to handle Mom’s caregiving issues if my own health was starting to crumble. At that point I realized that I no longer could delay or ignore some of the important self-care tasks (like flossing) if I wanted to not only do a good job in my caregiving role, but also live the life I want to have once Mom passes away.
I also believe that the human body should be viewed as a holistic system, not as separate pieces -- mind or body or however you split yourself up. By neglecting one part of the system, a person may be setting him or herself up for bad news down the road. That brings me back to Alzheimer’s disease. Some research studies indicate that inflammation (such as gum disease) may increase the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
I already know that Mom’s side of the family has a history of developing dementia, so I need to use everything in my wellness arsenal to lower my own risks. By getting serious about dental care (as well as other things, such as exercise, nutrition and stress reduction), I can do my part to try to live a healthy life for as long as possible. So count me in for the jumbo pack of dental floss!
Published On: July 02, 2007