by Leslie Horton, Yavapai County Community Health Services
Women often spend so much time helping others they do not take time to care for themselves.
- Eat a healthy diet. Good nutrition and food safety are especially important for older adults. As you age, you may be more susceptible to food-borne illness and food poisoning. You also need to make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Programs like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) help young families understand nutrition and nourish their families.
- Be active. Exercise and physical activity can help you stay fit and strong and is important for all women throughout their lives. You don’t have to go to a gym to exercise. Talk to your health-care provider about safe ways you can be active. Living in Prescott, there are so many ways to get yourself outside for walks, hikes, bike rides and gardening. YCCHS is a partner with the City of Prescott and the Highland Center in offering the TrekAbout program. Treks around the Prescott area are every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7 during the summer months and 8 a.m. during winter months and vary in length and difficulty. For information, call (928) 777-1122.
- Manage stress. Mental health is very important to a woman’s physical well-being. Managing day-to-day stress, whether taking care of children, aging parents or going to work, women often juggle many stressors, and it is important to take time to relax, exercise and find healthy ways to manage stress before it becomes a long-term problem.
- Practice sun safety. Sunlight exposure can provide needed vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption and strong bones, helps our brains, muscles, heart function, and aids in proper immune-system function. However, excessive sun exposure can lead to skin damage and skin cancers. Protect your skin with SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to reduce the risk of skin damage.
- Manage health conditions. It is important that you work with your health-care provider to manage health conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis and high blood pressure. YCCHS offers Chronic Disease Self-Management for Diabetes or pain workshops on a regular basis.
- Avoid common medication mistakes. Medicines can treat health problems and help you live a long, healthy life. When used incorrectly, medicines can also cause serious health problems. Rid your cabinets of unneeded and expired prescription drugs by taking them to a MATFORCE sponsored Dump The Drugs Event, or by taking them to a police station near you.
- Get screened. Health screenings are an important way to help recognize health problems — sometimes before you show any signs or symptoms. Ask your health-care provider which health screenings are right for you and find out how often you should get screened for mammograms, colonoscopies, HIV/HepC testing. The Community Health Center of Yavapai offers the Well Woman HealthCheck program, which provides ongoing quality assurance and quality improvement; breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostics; and patient tracking, follow-up and case management. The program also provides Care Coordination services to uninsured, underinsured and insured women to assist them in navigating the complex health-care system. To see if you qualify to receive free cancer screening through the Well Woman HealthCheck Program, please contact: Well Woman HealthCheck Program (928) 442-5491 in the Prescott area or (928) 634-6835 in the Verde Valley.
Concerning local health trends:
- Yavapai County has a suicide death rate of 32.8 per 100,000 people, almost twice the state rate.
- Higher rates of drug-induced deaths, currently 3rd highest rate of all Arizona counties.
- Residents overwhelmingly report an increased need for mental health services across the county.
- Higher incidences of breast cancer in comparison to other Arizona counties, affecting 1 in 8 women.
- (Based on the results of the 2017 Yavapai County Community Health Assessment, which can be found at yavapai.us/chs.)