As your own Health Guardian, start by looking at yourself. Who are you? What health issues are you dealing with? Okay, that’s your, past and present, but what do you want to do with the rest of your life? What barriers are holding you back? What are your goals? It’s not too late, regardless of your current health, you can have an impact on your health and quality of life.
The Veterans’ Health Administration in 2013, suggested that you should look at your whole health and you as a whole person. They said “The road to better health rests within you. The first step is to know what you want from your health and why. Knowing your health goals may not be a simple task; yet it is an important step toward reaching your full potential. Living life fully and optimizing health and well-being goes beyond not being sick; it means understanding what matters to you and looking at all aspects in life that contribute to a sense of well-being.”
The size of your goals doesn’t matter, it’s having goals that matters, that’s how you can make healthy progress. You’re not looking to change your lifestyle overnight; change happens over time. No matter how different your story might be from others, one thing stays the same, lifestyles have more to do with your health than any other factor.
So as a Health Guardian it’s very important that you’re aware of how our country’s health is trending. Many of us still believe that America is the greatest country on earth, but studies have shown that when it comes to health, America isn’t doing so well. And like it or not, national trends do trickle down on us as individuals. When it comes to health, it appears America is on a slippery sloop moving in the wrong direction. Since 2000, the life expectancies in America have declined, forty-nine other countries have higher life expectancy rates than America.
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated that last year there was a shift in the way that many people, across the globe, lived their lives. As 2021 continues, so does this pattern which has in turn created noticeable lifestyle trends. The top lifestyle trends of 2021 reflect the increased public awareness for the prioritization of health and compassion. In 2020 many Americans began to eat more plant-based foods with many more setting this as an intention for 2021.
So how does our nation’s health effect you? Tragically, your risk of being afflicted by multiple chronic illness is on the rise. That translates to far too many premature deaths for Americans. As Health Guardians, we must get off this slippery slope of declining health. The effects are too dangerous to ignore.
This might blow you away, but approximately two-thirds of all people in the history of the world who have ever lived past 65 are alive today. It’s not just aging that presents problems for us as individual or as a nation, it’s also that we’re experiencing worrisome increases in preventable chronic illness. According to the CDC in 2019, 6 out of 10 Americans suffered from a chronic illness that could have been preventable by being their own Health Guardian.
So, you might be thinking, what do all these numbers really mean to me as a Health Guardian? They mean that as individuals, families, health professionals, hospitals, nursing home, health insurance companies and community-based service organizations we’re all facing challenges that we’re never faced before. Such as the rising cost of healthcare and healthcare products, over worked healthcare facilities, premature deaths, chronic illnesses, and health related disabilities. According to Humana, their health insurance’s social responsibility is to “focus on making it easy for each person to achieve whole-person health and well-being. When we say we want to make living a healthy life easier for everyone, we truly mean it—...”
Even when you are being a good Health Guardian, there are sometimes when you must use a healthcare system. Investopedia suggests some ways you can save on your medical bills:
- Saving money on medical bills can be done by wisely choosing providers, such as using in-network care providers and asking for discounts.
- Other ways to cut costs include using generic prescriptions and getting mail-order drugs.
- Billing errors can increase your costs as well, thus, it pays to audit your medical bills and establishing a relationship with billing offices.
- Urgent care centers are often less expensive than going to the emergency room of a hospital.
The are some ways that you can live longer according to John Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins-led a study of 6,200 men and women over eight years and found that those who adopted these four smart behaviors, reduced the chance of death from all causes within that time frame by an astounding 80 percent.
- Don’t Smoke: Smoking affects coronary arteries and lungs, and smokers also have increased rates of cancer and risk of stroke.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: The healthiest people in the study maintained a body mass index (BMI)—a ratio of height to weight that measures body mass—of less than 25.
- Get Up and Move: Aim for about 30 minutes of activity a day most days of the week. Try breaking it into three 10-minute bouts of activity per day—a 10-minute walk in the morning, another at lunch and a stroll after dinner.
- Make Healthy Food Choices: The study found that the healthiest people followed a Mediterranean-style diet. That means a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, tree nuts with healthy oils, fish (and less red meats), whole-grain carbs and olive oil for cooking.
As your own Health Guardian, you can start today by implementing some of these ideas, to become more self-reliant, improve your quality of life, start saving time and money, by not having to make so many trips to the doctor’s and hospitals, and begin looking forward to a longer healthier life.