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Health

A Guide to Healthy Living as a Family

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Finding time to focus on your family’s health can be challenging. However, studies show that a healthier family is a happier family, so it’s important to establish good habits in the household, like eating well and being active. You don’t have to do it alone. Having the right medical experts on hand to take care of you and your little ones can be a big help. Here are some tried and true ways you can ensure that your family’s wellness stays on track.

4 Easy and Fun Activities for Active Families
Looking for a Dentist? Here’s What You Should Consider
5 Ways to Prepare for Your Next Checkup
Key Kids’ Health Stats
Resource Guide

Tips To Get The Family Moving

You don’t need to set aside huge chunks of your busy schedule to boost your crew’s physical activity. Just a few changes to the family’s daily routine can make a huge difference in making sure your kids grow up fit and healthy. These four easy activities are a great way to get started.

  • Get Out in the Garden: Kids love to get their hands dirty, so let them dig around in the dirt alongside you the next time you plant new bulbs in the garden. Get some child-sized tools from a local garden center and set aside a section of the garden just for them to fill with big and bright plants like sunflowers and cherry tomatoes. There’s a much likelier chance they’ll eat vegetables they planted themselves! Don’t forget to leave some time leftover for a childhood favorite: digging for earthworms.
  • Walk it Out: Just going for a short 15-minute walk around the block with the family before and after dinner can have big health benefits for the whole family. Make it a fun way of exploring the neighborhood by changing the path each day and race up any stairs you come across for an extra boost of activity.
  • Commercial Break Workouts: Instead of tuning out as you sit through commercial breaks during your favorite show, turn that time into a mini-fitness routine with fun and simple exercises. Get off the couch and see who can do the most jumping jacks in 30 seconds followed by some push-ups and sit-ups before the show comes back on. Commercials may end up being more fun than watching the show!
  • Just Dance: Cranking up the music and boogieing with the family is a great way to improve flexibility and reduce stress. Pick out a few nights of the week where the kiddos can move to the music in their jammies to some of their favorite songs. Learning a dance—like the Macarena or Cha Cha Slide—and performing it together is also a great way to make staying active a team effort.

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5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Family Dentist

A good dentist is essential to making sure your children’s teeth stay strong and healthy as they develop, but picking out the right one can be as painful as a cavity. With so many options out there, knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here are five questions to ask that can help you make a more informed decision on who to choose.

1. Can you provide me with references?

Ask for references from patients who can speak for the quality of the dentist. For specialists, ask if they are accredited by a nationally recognized dental group like the American Dental Association.

2. Are payment plans available? 

It’s no secret that trips to the dentist are expensive, but many practices offer payment plans to ease the financial burden. Ask about spreading the cost of your family’s care into low monthly payments and if the practice offers free consultations.

3. How do you measure progress and success?

The best dentists will have a way of determining how many visits your family will need as well as objective milestones toward your desired goals. Ask how the dentist prioritizes treatments and if there are regular progress exams to stay on track.

4. What services do you provide? 

Not every dentist will offer all of the services you may need, so find out early on what they can provide so you don’t have to search for a new dentist later. Ask if they have more than just general dentistry, like orthodontics, implants, or cosmetics, to ensure all of your family’s needs can be taken care of in one place. Your dentist should also have specialized knowledge in dealing with dental problems specific to children, like early tooth loss.

5. Is your office child-friendly?

Many kids already fear a visit to the dentist, and a cold, unfriendly environment will only make them feel worse. On the flip side, a welcoming practice can help your child build healthy dental habits for life. Ask if the office waiting room is a fun and inviting place with toys and games for kids to play with as they wait for their appointment. Be sure the dentist has worked with children before and offers a calm presence that can help alleviate your child’s fears.

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How to Get the Most out of Your Annual Check-Ups

If you can’t remember the last time you’ve seen a doctor, then it’s a definite sign that it’s time to pay them a visit. A yearly check-up is one of the best ways to take your health into your own hands and catch any harmful illnesses early on. Here are a few things you can do before your check-up to make sure it’s as worthwhile as possible.

Do Your Homework

Review your personal and family medical history before you visit and make a list of any immediate family with cancer, heart disease, or other major health conditions. Also bring a list of all medications and supplements you’re currently taking, as they may interfere with new medications the doctor prescribes. The more information your doctor has readily available, the better prepared they are to care for your family’s specific health needs.

Come With Questions

Many symptoms can leave you anxious or embarrassed, but it’s important to tell your doctor about anything that’s worrying you, whether it’s physical or emotional. Jot down a list of questions about any concerns you may have so you don’t forget to bring them up during the appointment. Remember, no question is a bad question. Also, don’t be afraid to discuss your vices, like alcohol and drug use. Searching for your symptoms online can bring up a lot of misinformation, so a regular visit to your doctor is key to knowing if your concerns are warranted.

Set a Regular Appointment

Doctor visits are often inconvenient and easy to forget if you don’t have any immediate health concerns. Don’t just make your annual check-up something to cross off your to-do list. Set mid-year calendar reminders with several available dates so you have some breathing room if you have to cancel your appointment. Planning ahead also allows you to book visits for the whole family in a row so you have fewer trips to make.

Make Sure You’re Covered

An annual physical exam is most likely covered by your insurance policy under health insurance law, along with preventative services like vaccinations and diabetes screenings. Still, you may be charged residual costs for other tests and services. Every health insurance policy is unique, so be sure to check with your insurance provider beforehand to determine what check-up costs they will cover.

Know Your Health Goals

Sit down and write out what’s most important to you when it comes to health. Just like you would for other aspects of your life, it’s important to set short and long-term goals for your health. These might include more independence, improved physical and/or mental function, and increased life expectancy. Sharing these goals with your doctor can help them provide more focused care to help you achieve them.

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3 Kids Health Facts You Should Know

  1. Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  2. Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
  3. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Contact an expert from our resource guide below for more information that can help you boost your family’s health. Pick up the September 2019 issue for the print version of this special section.

RESOURCE GUIDE

Eye Care & Laser Surgery of Newton Wellesley
Newton, MA
617-796-3937 | eyecareandlasersurgery.com
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Eye Care and Laser Surgery provides laser eye surgery as well as comprehensive eye care including routine eye exams for glasses and contact lenses and treatment of eye pathology such as cataract, dry eye, glaucoma, and more.

Newton Dental Associates
Newton, MA
617-965-0060 | newtondentalassociates.com
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Newton Dental Associates is a team-based, multi-specialty, cosmetic and family practice owned by Dr. Anna Berik, Boston’s Premier Cosmetic Dentist. Their specialists offer a wide range of services from preventative care and oral surgery to cosmetic and restorative dentistry.

Newton Wellesley Dental Partners
Newton, MA
617-965-1225 | newtonwellesleydentalpartners.com
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 Dr. Ryne Johnson, prosthodontist and director of Newton Wellesley Dental Partners, is considered one of Boston’s premier dentists and a Boston magazine Top Dentist. He is regarded as a pioneer in the synergistic use of computers in dentistry and focuses on implant and reconstructive cases.

Newton-Wellesley Hospital
Newton, MA
617-243-6000 | nwh.org
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 Newton-Wellesley Hospital—a member of Partners HealthCare System—is dedicated to providing exceptional and compassionate care. The hospital provides the services and expertise of a major medical center with the convenience and personal attention of a community hospital.

Tufts Medical Center
Boston, MA
617-636-5000 | tuftsmedicalcenter.org
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 Tufts Medical Center’s primary care physicians are dedicated to your wellness, with a strong commitment to research and training. They are able to provide the best care close to home, with offices in Boston, Framingham, Quincy, Wellesley, and Woburn.