Beginning with Mother’s Day, May 12 through Saturday, May 18, the US Department of Health and Human Services has coordinated efforts across the nation to bring awareness to health issues effecting women. During this week, health issues concerning women are being spotlighted to bring awareness to a myriad of topics including alcohol abuse, psychiatric health, dementia, breast cancer, as well as many others.
US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius encourages all women to make their health a priority in order to live a happier life, “Women are frequently the health care decision-makers in their families. We take time off from work to drive a parent to the doctor. We hold our children’s hands while they get their vaccinations. We make the appointments for our spouses’ checkups – and then make sure they actually go. We stretch and re-work our family budgets to pay the doctor’s bills. And too often, we put our own health last.” (hhs.gov)
This is the 14th annual National Women’s Health Week, with Monday, May 13, 2013, marking the 11th annual National Women’s Checkup Day.
The Office on Women’s Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services has worked across the nation to bring together government, business, communities, health organizations, and other groups to promote the significance of women’s health. They want women to be empowered to prioritize their health and encourages them to take the steps to improve both their mental and physical health. Additionally, they urge women to focus on preventative measures and think about future health risks.
Yesterday, Monday May 13, was National Women’s Checkup Day as part of National Women’s Health Week. National Women’s Checkup Day is a concerted effort intended to drive women to make appointments with their physician for the early detection of various conditions such as diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. When participating in a checkup, women should consider preventative screenings such as Pap tests and mammograms at this time.
The Affordable Care Act has changed the way insurance handles these types of screenings, now you can get them with no additional copay. Routine care can dramatically improve the risk of the disease or health condition if caught in time.
Besides going to the doctor, there are things a woman can do on her own to promote a healthy lifestyle:
- Stay active – losing just 10% of your body weight if you are overweight will make a tremendous difference in your health; your blood pressure will improve, the impact on your joints will lessen, your mental health will become healthier, you will feel better overall
- Eat healthy – cut out junk food; even if you cut out one trip a week to the fast-food franchises a week, your health will improve. Pack your lunch, not only will it help your pocket book, but you will know exactly what you are eating, you will notice an improvement in your waistline and the way you feel in general
- Mental health – take time for yourself, it does not mean you are “selfish”; think about what they tell you every time you fly and the flight attendants give their spiel about the oxygen masks, you must put your own mask on before you can help your child. It seems like a crazy idea initially because you want to help your child first, as a mother it is your nature, but until you have oxygen (life), you cannot help anybody else. So, take care of yourself, nurture yourself, and make certain you have what you need so you are there to take care of your loved ones.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors – Smoking, drinking to excess, texting while driving (and other distracting behaviors – putting on makeup, eating), avoiding wearing a seatbelt, drinking and driving, participating in risky sexual behaviors
- Avoid (or get out of) unhealthy relationships – Learn where to turn to if you are in a physically or mentally abusive relationship
Events for National Women’s Health Week, including free screenings, are scheduled all across the nation, to learn more about events in your local area go to womenshealth.gov and click on “Find Events in Your Area”.
If you are uninsured, you can still take control of your health; beginning in October of this year the Affordable Care Act will offer the Insurance Marketplace where you can compare and choose a range of plans to fit your needs and budget.
However, the potential have to live without insurance is very real for many Americans, women, men and children; money is always a factor. Arm yourself with a healthy and responsible lifestyle, knowledge of your community resources and stay up to date on any free clinics or screenings that are available during public awareness events such as National Women’s Health Week.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent/ Product Specialist