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 health.
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.