Can preventative action help curb the rising cost of health care? It can substantially reduce our own out-of-pocket costs, certainly, and help us live independently longer. Taking ownership of our bodies, health and wellness as a proactive prevention measure has never been more important.
Why pay (or suffer?) for something we can prevent?
Becoming more proactive doesn’t require great effort and a total overhaul of your lifestyle. Instead, thinking of ways to improve general wellness and prevent common problems (like a back going out, a nasty fall or diabetes) is a great place to begin, instead of reacting after the fact. Many health conditions are largely preventable if we can become a little more mindful of our actions and choices.
According to USA Today, this shift is gaining momentum across America… a wonderful thing! We’re becoming more aware of what we eat and do.
It’s also important to stay on top of our own medical care as patients.
We have the power to take control of both.
6 proactive health care changes anyone can try
Small changes can make a big impact and are often easier to sustain over time, so starting with a few “easier” things might seem manageable.
Why not start with these ideas?
1. More vegetables!
Most of us simply don’t eat enough vegetables, relying far too heavily on meats and carb-heavy side dishes. Dinner is an ideal time to load up your plate with 30 to 50 percent vegetables. It’s healthier and since you aren’t bogging down your digestive system at bedtime, you might even sleep better. Who knows, you might even save on your grocery budget as you buy less meat!
2. More activity.
Thanks to binge-watching television shows on Netflix and Hulu (or both!), many of us spend FAR too much time sitting down. Why not set a maximum number of episodes to watch each day, such as three, and “earn” additional ones by walking around the block or doing a household chore before you hit the “next” button on the remote? Anything to increase your level of activity is a good thing.
If you’d like to take moving a little more seriously, adding a daily stroll and a few basic fall prevention exercises to your routine would be fabulous!
3. Remove toxic products from the home.
It seems pointless to spend a fortune on organic produce each week, only to clean our bodies, clothing and homes with cancer-causing products. Why not check labels and replace anything that could be considered dangerous with safe, more natural cleaners?
It’s also a great idea to get into the habit of reading labels on products before purchasing them. This ensures your environment stays safe long after the initial removal of harmful products.
4. Stay on top of all regular check-ups… even the ones we don’t like.
It’s a little too easy to become neglectful of our own health, and changing that is an important part of being proactive. That “annual” mammo or prostate exam you haven’t done for five or six years? Schedule it.
I had a girlfriend save her own life recently. She put off a routine colonoscopy for years, dismissing it as unnecessary. When she finally had it done, signs of cancer proved waiting just one more month would have been resulted in a very different diagnosis. It would have spread too much for her to undergo the life-saving treatment that was necessary. She’s home now and back to work, telling everyone the story as encouragement.
Preventative screenings matter.
According to Berkley, 30 to 50 percent of Americans over 50 will develop adenomas in their colon, and 1 to 10 percent of those polyps will become cancerous within 10 years. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.
5. Maintain your own medical records.
Whether you’re on Medicare or not, it’s common to switch doctors frequently. Even if you’re in relatively good health with no complex medical conditions, it’s a great idea to keep your medical records in one place. Why not request copies and keep the information in one binder? It can be enormously helpful.
For those with a diagnosis or condition that requires ongoing care, it’s an amazingly efficient way to keep track of medication changes, lab work, insurance details and other information.
You can also have a section for non-medical health records, too, or even a food diary.
6. Decide in advance how you want care if you aren’t able to make the decision.
Part of proactively taking care of ourselves is making sure our preferences are clear in the event that someone else has to make decisions for us.
This includes health care instructions easily accessed in emergencies, such as a living will, do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order or advance directive, and pre-planning future caregiving needs through a continuing care at home plan. Defining these in advance can ease quite a burden from the shoulders of your family members for important decisions, such as life support or caregiving duties. (Learn more about the staggering effect of long-term care on family caregivers here.)
It can be your decision if documented in advance.
Interested in being proactive about your future long-term care needs? Reserve your spot now at our free, no-obligation discovery seminar to learn about continuing care at home and how it can protect you from the costs of long-term care, or call (623) 227- HOME (4663).
Sun Health at Home is the first CCaH program in the Western United States, and the only one available in Arizona.