Striking Out Stress

Jun 07, 2024

April is National Stress Awareness Month -- a great time to develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the physical, mental, and emotional strains so many of us experience on a regular basis. 

Thankfully, there are numerous ways to cope with and even reduce stress in your life. Today’s newsletter highlights some of these and also reports on a stress-inducing subject that’s important to people with disabilities: improving access to quality health care, especially dental care, for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Rather than stressing you out, I hope this information motivates you to advocate for change. 

I believe it’s possible to mitigate much of our stress in life through collaboration, connectedness, and a supportive community. Building positive relationships with people and developing a sense of purpose helps us manage the challenges that cause us stress in the first place.

On that note, please share this email with others who may benefit from it. If today’s newsletter was forwarded to you, please sign up for your own copy below. And welcome to our community.

Managing stressful home care support needs.

One of the biggest stressors of my life is the work required to hire, train, and manage home healthcare providers for our son with disabilities. He lives outside our family home in his own apartment, enjoys his independent life, but requires substantial support that we help to coordinate.

Although his care team is terrific, caregivers get sick, cars break down, issues arise that need to be managed.  And although Andrew continues to take on more responsibility for this aspect of his life, he will always require assistance to juggle these stressors.

Recently, I found an amazing online resource to help individuals and their families manage the stress of home care support needs. Developed by the Institute on Community Integration and Medicaid (CMS), it includes six separate audio/video lessons that address how to find and hire care providers, train and support your care team, manage team burnout, and more.

Check out the video below to see if this free self-paced training series might be helpful to you or someone you know.


Reducing stress through exercise.

We’ve heard it a thousand times: more exercise = less stress. But how and when? Busy parents often can't find the time or make this a priority.  Family caregivers never put their needs first.  Excuses abound.

Remember that starting small is still starting. And often, it’s just what we need to experience positive outcomes, feel successful, and commit to more.

According to a recent New York Times article, resolving to get back into exercise or take up a new fitness routine is one of the best things you can do for your health. Whether it’s weights, cardio, or simply stretching for stress relief – just do something. Regular physical activity increases energy levels, improves cognition, helps reduce anxiety and worry, and promotes better sleep. No wonder Nike says, “Just do it.” (Now I'm really just giving myself a pep-talk.)

Decreasing dental care stress.

Like many patients with I/DD, our son has had great difficulty finding dental care providers – especially now that he’s an adult. After more than two years of searching, we recently identified a local practice that makes me hopeful; however, they don’t accept Medicaid (not many do).  So the stress continues.  

Based on a study of nearly 800+ patients in four states conducted by the American Academy of Developmental Dentistry and Medicine (AADDM), our family's experience is far too common.  Patients with I/DD reportedly wait nearly twice as long to get an appointment and routinely encounter non-ADA compliant practices.  Troubling, too, is the well-documented overuse of sedation within this population, with estimates that only 25% of the population need sedation care, yet 45% to 60% of I/DD patients receive sedation.

The National Roadmap for Disability Inclusive Healthcare is a great resource for advocating on this general issue. Consider sharing it and the above study findings with your child’s health care providers today. Accessible, high-quality oral health care for people with disabilities is long overdue.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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