Start 2015 right by planning for
your family's good health, the same way you plan ahead for important family
events. January is a good time to schedule your family's well checks, before
you become occupied with birthday parties, school graduations, spring weddings,
and summer vacation plans.
During a well check, your doctor can
identify risk factors for disease. If your family has a history of an illness
such as diabetes or heart disease, your doctor will help you take steps
to avoid becoming sick. You doctor can also help you tackle unhealthy habits
such as overeating, smoking, and not exercising.
Have you made a New Year's
resolution to lose weight or work out at the gym? Your doctor can recommend a
healthy eating plan or refer you to a nutritionist to ensure your success. A
physical exam is recommended before you start any vigorous exercise program. Your
doctor establishes your base weight, cholesterol level, and blood pressure so
that you can measure your progress and see how your efforts improve your
Children need regular well checks
because they are growing so rapidly. Your pediatrician will check that your
child's vaccinations are up to date and that your child is developing normally.
Make a list of questions to ask during your doctor visit. Ask about anything
that concerns you, including your child's social behavior and any habits that
worry you. A behavior problem is sometimes a symptom of a medical condition
that can be treated or managed. Your pediatrician might refer your child to a
speech therapist or family counselor, or suggest testing for underlying
conditions such as allergies, hearing loss, or neurological problems.
Your pediatrician will give you
updates on the newest health guidelines. For example, many parents believe
infants should face forward in a car seat after they are one year old, but the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Traffic Safety
Administration (NTSA) now recommend that a child remain in a rear-facing seat
until two or even three years of age.
Planning for health also means
making lifestyle changes that will benefit your family, such as avoiding fast
food restaurants and making sure your children have plenty of opportunities for
physical activity. Schedule regular family fun time, and do things the entire
family enjoys, like going to the beach, bowling, watching a basketball game or
movie, or playing a game. Plan a family vacation. Set aside time for
conversation with each family member. Spending time together with parents and
siblings gives children self-confidence and a sense of security, both of which
promote good health and a strong immune system.
Like any other life or business
goal, good health requires a commitment of time and money - time to exercise,
time to cook healthy meals, appointments with health practitioners, money to
buy good quality groceries, gym memberships, and fees for sports and
activities. Don't wait until poor health forces you to change your daily
routines. Put your family's health on your calendar for 2015.