Empowering women: Take care of yourself

When her family finally secured dental insurance, “Bree” said after her husband and children had their teeth fixed she’d take care of her own, but there were always reasons why she didn’t go to the dentist, mostly money.

She would spend it to make sure her husband and children had what they needed, but she waited because it would save money that the family needed to put in other places. She also didn’t go to the OB/GYN on a regular basis. And when she became ill she used home remedies rather than going to the doctor, even though she took the children when they were sick and she scheduled appointments for her husband when he needed them.

“Bree” could be any woman. Women are on call 24/7/365. Mothers are the parents who are expected to stay home from their jobs and take care of the children when they are sick.. Daughters are most likely to take on the tasks of care giving for adult family members who can’t take care of themselves. They traditionally put themselves last, and their health and wellness suffers because of it. Women may even convince themselves that because they are thinking about and caring for everyone else, they will think about her needs, too. But that’s probably not so.

Another factor for women is money. High co-pays and deductibles prevent many women getting what they need. If it’s going to take her two years to pay her share of having a mammogram and pap smear, she’s not going to be as likely to get those wellness care things taken care of. Many families are struggling financially in these troubled times. If they have medical expenses to pay-and those creditors do expect to be paid-what regular monthly bill will go unpaid? Heat? Electricity? Or will their grocery list be affected when they have to eat a lot of pasta and cheaper, less healthy “whites”? They already may be “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” and can’t afford to take on any more expenses.

With growing awareness of women’s health month (this year is the 14th annual event) everyone is becoming more aware of the importance of a woman’s good health. If the woman in your life was gone tomorrow, what would happen at your house? With her loss, what would go undone? What is her value in your home? Why wouldn’t you encourage her to take care of herself with good preventive care and treatment of medical conditions caught early? Taking care of her is the kind of thing that makes her feel loved and appreciated.

A 77-year-old man has been married to the same woman for nearly 60 years. When the doctors told them she has to have a kidney transplant, he immediately wanted to give her one of his, but he is not a match. She didn’t know it, but he made a huge sign, carried it on his back, and started walking everywhere he could think of to find a kidney transplant.

The sign said his wife needed a transplant and they were looking for a donor, along with his phone number. With tears in his eyes, he said she is his soulmate. He will do whatever he can to see that she gets what she needs.

As women understand how important and valuable they are and are encouraged by their loved ones to take better care of themselves, women are empowered to make their own health a priority.

She begins to work on a new self to reduce her health risks for both physical and mental health. She finds more energy, starts a wellness program that includes exercise, healthy diet, enough sleep and relaxation.

“Ellen” went to her doctor. “I’m so tired all the time. I think there’s something wrong with me,” she confided to him.

“Tell me about your day?”

She ran through the tasks on her lengthy to-do list.

“Do you ever take time for yourself to sit down and listen to your favorite music or read that book you’ve been dying to get your hands on?”

“What?” she asked. “I don’t have time for that.” And she was sure she wasn’t allowed to do that. If she did, how would everything possibly get done?

“If you don’t take time for you, time to do those kinds of things, you won’t be around to take care of all of your responsibilities-or what you think are your responsibilities.”

Oh. That struck a cord deep inside her. She would think of that wisdom many times in the future.

First Lady Michelle Obama said last year, “Today we are more empowered than ever before to take control of our lives and our health.” In some circles she isn’t considered just the First Lady of the U.S., but also the First Lady of Fitness.

May is Women’s Health Month. National Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day, May 12 and continues through May 18. National Women’s Checkup Day is Monday, May 13. Here’s a tip for you. Urge the woman in your life to take care of herself. Flowers can’t hurt. Saying you love her can help. But assure her that she is worth much more to you than what it costs to take care of her.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues.

Call for more information. The agency recently began a new training program, Sanctuary for Change which teaches women how to stay away from situations that make them feel unsafe, to make safe choices for themselves and to learn what healthy relationships have in common. FRC is located at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; and e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org.