Take care of your health
By Najja R. Orr, MBA, DBA, PCA president & CEO
October is dedicated to several health observances. Among them are month-long awareness of breast cancer, health literacy and dental hygiene. This month also marks the start of Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment, on Oct. 15, during which both current and new Medicare beneficiaries can compare coverage options and switch plans for the next year.
The health care issue of Milestones includes a wealth of “healthful” information and resources to assist with navigating Medicare, understanding monkeypox, knowing the risks for breast cancer and storing medications safely.
The first step in taking charge of your health is knowledge. You need to advocate for your own health care. Plan for your medical appointments by writing down a list of your symptoms, current medications and questions. Take notes and/or bring a companion to your medical appointments if necessary. If your health care provider mentions unfamiliar terms, ask them to spell the word(s) or write them down. Many health systems and insurance companies have online health records or portals where you can obtain more information about your health conditions, diagnoses and test results. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions and to admit that you don’t understand something and need further explanation.
Beyond the doctor’s office, it’s vitally important to know where to turn when you need information and assistance. The PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040 is the number to call for resources to help older adults and
their caregivers maintain a healthy lifestyle or to improve their well-being.
PCA’s programs support economic stability, education, health care, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. These five areas are known as social determinants of health, which encompass the conditions where people are born, grow, live, work and age that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, social determinants of health impact as much as 50% of local variations in health outcomes. Socioeconomic factors, such as poverty, employment and education, have the largest impact on health outcomes.
Among the programs that PCA funds are the network of senior community centers located in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. These centers offer an array of health programs, ranging from exercise classes to workshops. It’s a great place to keep up with or to improve your health. To locate your nearest senior community center or additional health resources, call the PCA Helpline or go to pcaCares.org/senior-centers.
Additionally, several times a year, PCA hosts six-week series of evidence-based health promotion programs to help older adults better manage their own chronic health conditions, including diabetes, pain and HIV/AIDS. For more information about these programs or to register for an upcoming series, contact PCA’s Health Promotion Specialist Lauren Jirinec at 215-765-9000, ext. 5119.
When it comes to taking care of your health, you need to take action. Even making small, healthier changes can improve your overall well-being.