“Family Health Month” is a month-long campaign in which the AAFP and family physicians urge everyone to take a closer look at their health by conducting a personal health inventory.
In addition to encouraging people to take a closer look at their families’ eating habits, physical fitness, stress and mental health, the focus is also on alerting families to be aware of the hazards of tobacco and alcohol use as well as possible hazards in the home. Your health and your family’s health should be a top priority.
All of the major causes of illness and death - cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and injury--can be prevented by things you do.
The following areas should help enable you to take a closer look at your and your family’s overall health, including eating habits, physical fitness, mental health, and use of tobacco or alcohol.
- Proper Nutrition: Do you eat a balanced diet?
- See that your family eats appropriately. Heart disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes and damage to your arteries can be linked to what you eat. Fiber, fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of some cancers.
- Physical Fitness: Does your body feel in tune?
- Keep your family's bodies in tune. Exercise can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and, possibly, colon cancer, stroke and back injury. You'll also feel better and keep your weight under control if you exercise regularly.
- Lose Weight if Overweight: Are you carrying too much weight?
- Carrying too much weight increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, gallbladder disease and arthritis in the weight-bearing joints (like the spine, hips or knees). A high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight gradually and help you keep it off.
- Stress: Do you feel pressured?
- Pay attention to your family's mental and spiritual health.
- Hazards: Is your home safe for young and old?
- Control hazards in your home and reduce the health risks.
- Disease: Are immunizations up to date in your household?
- Schedule periodic health screening exams and immunizations for your family.
- Tobacco: Do you use tobacco?
- Healthy life-style habits play a major role in preventing illness. Using tobacco is one of the most dangerous things you can do. More preventable illnesses are caused by tobacco than by anything else.
- Alcohol: Do you drink too much?
- Again, healthy life-style habits play a major role in preventing illness. Limit how much alcohol you drink. Too much alcohol can damage the liver and contribute to some cancers, such as throat and liver cancer.
- Partnership for Health: Do you have a regular doctor?
- Family physicians are experts in helping you set up the personal health program that not only gets you healthy but keeps you healthy. Establish a partnership for health with your family physician.
Healthy families also all have one thing in common: they talk. Families need to communicate. Many families are too busy to talk about health issues and concerns until there is a problem with a family member or there is a major illness. Communication is key to early detection and prevention for illness and injury. Communication is important for many reasons. Too many people think that the only time to discuss something is when there is a problem, so they don’t work at daily conversations about general life. If conversation is part of family life, it becomes easy and while it may still be tough to talk about some things, it won’t be impossible. Take time to talk to your family members and your family physician about your health and your family’s health.
“Comprehensive, continuing family health care is the best health value going," according to AAFP's president Douglas Henley, M.D., of Fayetteville, NC.
If are aware and know your family health history and your risk factors, you can help yourself stay well with preventive health care.
The main mission of “Family Health Month” is to encourage family communication, increase public awareness of family histories and health issues, provide information to assist families in keeping up their health and record family histories.
Don’t let your family health get lost in the chaos of every day life—make a commitment to communicate and be healthy and well!
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References: The AmericanAcademy of Family Physicians; Healthy Living Newsletter- SLM & Healthy Living; Joel R. Cooper “The Medical Reporter”; FamilyDoctor.org.