Your Health Matters
First my friend's older single brother found himself undergoing major surgery for failing to take care of a foot infection.
Next was the call that my dear colleague Andrea had passed out on line at the movies due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
And then, just yesterday, one of our contributors told me about his medical bill woes which could have easily been mitigated if he had better planned for his long-term health care.
I learned about these three incidents in just one week, and naturally got to thinking about the well-being of singles. And though the health gap between married and singles is narrowing, I decided to do some sleuthing. Shortly after, I came across a few interesting statistics about how singles measure up when it comes to personal health. Here is what I discovered∗:
1. Overall, single adults are less likely than married individuals to get regular physical check-ups.
2. Single adults are less likely than married adults to go to the doctor when they are ill.
3. Single adults are less likely to eat healthy foods or practice a balanced diet.
4. Single adults are less likely to do as their doctor prescribes.
5. And finally, single adults are more likely to suffer stress-related conditions such as ulcers, insomnia and depression than their married counterparts.
Why is it that when it comes to personal health matters so many singles are suffering? I decided to go back to my sources for answers. Here is what they reported:Problem #1: I never thought this could happen to me
Rx: To be proactive rather than reactive regarding your health, make sure to schedule regular examinations. Set appointments in your calendar with your general practitioner and other healthcare professionals at the beginning of each season and be sure to ask about/follow up with screenings and other health checks based on your age and medical history (mammograms, cardiograms, colonoscopy etc.) Don't ever ignore warning signs such as infections or skin, mood, bladder or sleep irregularities, and be sure to obtain vaccinations and immunizations each season.Problem #2: I did not plan for the future
Rx: Before you retire, find out what health benefits, if any, extend to you during your retirement years. Consult with your employer's human resources office, your union, youe plan administrator, and check your Summary Plan Description. Make sure there is no conflicting information among these sources about the benefits you will receive or the circumstances under which they can change or be eliminated. With this information in hand, you can make other important choices, like finding out if you are eligible for Medicare and Medigap insurance coverage and the new Medicare prescription drug program.
Problem # 3: I forgot to take my meds and there was no one there to remind me.
Rx: Missing your medication only once in a long while will not be a problem, but if you forget to take it on a regular basis it can lead to trouble. These days you can set up notifications on your computer or personal handheld devices for medicine reminders, so check out Kwiry and MyMemorizer. There are also a host of friendly reminder services that will reach you directly such as iPing. And if you don't already do so, it is good practice to keep a record of your intake on a daily basis in a journal or online, and also to use a pill organizer.Problem #4: I am so stressed I cannot even sleep, let alone find time to take care of myself.
Rx: The first step to reducing stress is to make sure you get enough rest by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, even on vacation and weekends. If you are having trouble sleeping make sure to refrain from night time exercise and stay away from caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime. A light dairy snack or hot bath before bedtime can both help induce sleep. Try to avoid the urge to nap as this will ensure you are tired when it's time to go to sleep. And make it a point of adding stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation into your weekly schedule. Problem #5: It may be hard to imagine, but some days I am so swamped I have no time to, or forget to eat.
Rx: Between work, home and play it's actually quite common for individuals to get distracted and forget to eat regular meals. When you know you will be having a stressful week, plan meals in advance and be sure to include breakfast as this will prevent blood sugar from dropping. Bring snacks with you when you are traveling and always make sure to eat something if you plan to head out for after work cocktails. If you don't have time to cook or pick up pre-packaged meals, you can always have healthy gourmet meals delivered straight to your home or workplace.
How often do we hear the refrain that if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself? Well now is the time --- life is a long journey, so make sure to take care of yourself!
∗ Source: Packaged Facts Report, May 2007
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