Though it can sometimes be difficult to relax and enjoy the fast-paced nature of the winter holidays, doing so could give you just the opportunity you need to position yourself for better health in 2013, according to independent non-profit patient-advocacy group Californians for Patient Care.
There is a lot of hustle and bustle associated with the winter holidays, but taking a little time out to consider and plan for a healthier new year could bring tremendous rewards, said Carmella Gutierrez, president of Californians for Patient Care. The holiday season provides many people with an opportunity to reflect on the past year and is a good time to consider how they want the coming year to be different, maybe even better. By taking just a few minutes to jot down simple ways to improve your health this holiday season, you can be even farther down the path to improved health in 2013.
Californians for Patient Care suggests trying one or more of the following to improve your health:
- Make sure you and your family members are up-to-date on all vaccinations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its not too late to get a flu vaccination;
- Take advantage of preventive care screenings and programs, like mammograms and prostate exams, blood pressure check-ups and risk analyses for chronic illnesses like diabetes. Many health plans are now required by law to offer them without additional co-pays or co-insurance costs;
- Talk with your family members about their health histories to understand potential risk factors for chronic illness. Now is a good time to update your personal medical history with any current medications, allergies and procedures received during the past year;
- Wash your hands frequently, as recommended by the CDC, to keep from spreading viruses and infection. Hand sanitizer is fine, but washing hands regularly with soap and water is preferred;
- Stay home if you are sick. Co-workers and friends, as well as your childrens classmates and teachers will thank you. It is especially important to stay away from newborns or hospital patients when sick;
- Eat healthy foods and exercise at least once a day;
- Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation during cold weather. According to the California Department of Public Health, drinking alcoholic beverages can cause the body to lose heat rapidly; and
- Socialize with people who have healthy habits. This could mean broadening your circle of friends or encouraging your friends to adopt some new, healthy habits along with you. According to research published by the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism, people are heavily influenced by the health practices of others in their social circle.
For Californians looking to adopt these and other healthy behaviors, but who may be concerned about the cost of doing so, remember that Californians for Patient Care is available to connect you to free and low-cost healthcare resources in your community.
Californians for Patient Care has the states largest and most comprehensive database of free and low-cost healthcare facilities. By visiting www.calpatientcare.org and typing in basic search information such as city or county and care needed, Californians can find a list of local healthcare providers that provide primary, dental and mental healthcare services to the uninsured and underinsured. To get started, click on the button in the upper right hand corner of the home page named Find free health clinics and low-cost clinics near you.
Along with information on local dental care and healthcare service providers, Californians for Patient care also provides information on chronic disease management, how to shop for health insurance, answers to questions around healthcare reform, patient rights and helpful links to healthcare organizations and websites.
During this holiday season, we hope everyone takes the time to consider how important the gift of good health is for them and for the people they care about, said Gutierrez.
Californians for Patient Care is an independent non-profit patient-advocacy organization based in Sacramento dedicated to protecting the interests of patients and ensuring all California consumers have fair and equitable access to high quality healthcare. For more information, visit www.calpatientcare.org.