Life has changed in ways both big and small over the last year. Plans were suspended and priorities shifted as people cautiously made their way through a situation that they had never experienced, much less imagined would happen.
As people get closer than ever to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind then – thanks to wider vaccine distribution and safe practices to slow the spread of the virus – many are looking forward to getting back to the things they have been missing – planned vacations on pause, suspended social gatherings, even just dropping by a friend’s or loved one’s for a coffee catch-up.
There is one priority, however, that people have all shared during the pandemic that should remain high on the list: one’s health.
If there is one thing that has collectively been learned over the last year it is that – in short – health means everything, according to Patricia Gedemer, chief nursing officer/clinical leader at Watertown Regional Medical Center.
People have put a lot of time and energy into protecting themselves and others from COVID-19, and that is very important and worthwhile, Gedemer said. But taking care of one’s health means a lot more than successfully staying virus-free. It means taking charge of one’s health so one can stay on top of any issues that arise before they become serious. It means not delaying the care needed to feel better and get healthier so one can fully enjoy all of those things they’ve been missing lately. Here are some of the most important ways one can keep your health a priority in the months and years to come.
• Schedule screen time. Not the computer screen time but health screenings that are important road markers on one’s health journey – like annual mammograms for women 40 and up, annual colonoscopies for those 45 and older and low dose CT screening if one is a current or former smoker. Screenings like these can help detect cancer early and allow for easier and more effective treatment. And remember, if one is higher risk, they may need to start annual screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies earlier. Talk to a doctor about the risks and the right timing. It’s no surprise that American Cancer Society researchers estimate that almost 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2021, and the ACS is projecting an increase in late-stage diagnoses and preventable cancer deaths due to delayed care. If one has been putting off screenings during this last year, now’s a great time to get it on the calendar and get the peace of mind it can bring.
• Check in with a check-up. Like regular screenings, annual well visits with a trusted primary care provider play a key role in overall health and well-being. That goes for all ages. They help providers establish a trusting and informed relationship that can help one stay up to date on unique health needs and stay on top of any issues that may arise. Knowing a family medical history and health risks, a provider can help one keep track of those annual screenings, as well as any potential issues to watch out for.
• Don’t gamble with health. Emergencies are called emergencies for a reason. When one puts their health at immediate risk, it is vital that they get the care one needs as soon as possible. Don’t wait, because an emergency will not wait. If one is experiencing chest pain or any emergency, minutes do matter. It is critical that one get to the hospital and get the care they need right when they need it.
• Live healthy. Creating good habits and routines can go a long way towards keeping you healthy and ready to embrace all life has to offer. Eating healthy, engaging in regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and taking care of your mental health all have major benefits for your health, and can help reduce your risk for certain diseases. If you’re struggling in any of these areas or just aren’t sure where to get started, talk with your primary care provider. They can help you with advice or point you in the direction of any specialized care you may need to feel your best.
Health affects every other aspect of one’s life. Without it, it’s a lot more difficult to enjoy the people and things in life that brings one joy. So, don’t make it wait. Get the care needed. Start a new healthy habit. Schedule that check-up and screening. It means everything.