Written by Natasha Bidadi, PharmD, BCGP (clinical pharmacist), Chelsea Myer, CHES, CPT (certified health coach) and Erik Rohner, PharmD Candidate 2022 (Pharmacy Intern)
You may have heard the expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”(1) This saying comes to us from Benjamin Franklin in 1735. Franklin was living in Philadelphia at the time and had just visited Boston where he was impressed with the city’s investment in fire prevention. Franklin believed in the concept that some careful preparation now can help prevent trouble in the future (preventing fires is certainly easier than putting them out!). The same is true for our health. Investing in your health now can not only significantly increase your life expectancy but improve your quality of life as well. We understand that the global COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in all of our plans, including our health, making regular doctor’s visits more difficult and what felt like putting our life on pause. However, in order to prevent health complications in the future, it’s important to continue to invest in preventative care. This blog will focus on the overall importance of preventative health care services, especially during the time of a pandemic.
It’s no surprise that adults have fallen behind on preventative healthcare visits. In 2015, it was estimated that only 8% of adults over 35 received all the highly recommended preventive services, and this number has only continued to decrease.(2) With the COVID-19 pandemic, many adults have had reservations about seeing their providers in person due to health concerns. However, delaying care can cause major consequences, especially for patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer. Providers have implemented strategies including telehealth visits, social distancing in waiting rooms, mask wearing by all heath care providers, and screening patients for Covid-19 symptoms to help increase safety during office visits.(3) In the table located at the end of this blog post you will find a schedule of preventative healthcare screening recommendations. We ask that you review the table to see what screenings you may be due for so you can discuss with your provider to ensure you are making your health a priority. See the table below.
An important component of preventative care is getting regular vaccinations, both for yourself and your family, including children. Vaccines were created over 200 years ago and are supported by safety data from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).(4) While we all know about the importance of getting your COVID-19 vaccine, other vaccinations such as yearly flu shots, pneumonia vaccines, hepatitis, and shingles vaccines are very important to prevent disease. Please visit our retail pharmacy where can administer regular vaccinations as well as provide you with tools to help you stay up to date on your immunization schedule.
While not often thought about, regularly taking your medications is an important part of ensuring your chronic conditions do not get worse. Here at ivira we have many free programs that can help you take your medications regularly. Our program MedSync allows all of your medications to be filled all on the same day once a month to reduce trips to the pharmacy. We also have Pill Pack where we can organize all your medications based on the times you take them (similar to a pill box) so you can easily stay organized with your medicines. We also have a new program, CareCaps, which is a smart pill cap that will allow the pharmacist to see when you take your medications and assist if you ever miss doses. And of course, we always offer free delivery for any of your medications! Talk to an ivira team member if you would like to enroll in any of these programs for free!
Preventative care starts with self-care. This does not only include attending your regular doctor's appointments and getting preventative vaccines and screenings, but also includes ensuring that you are caring for your body and mind. A healthy individual is one that is not always stressed, getting plenty of restful sleep, finding work-life balance, eating balanced meals, and engaging in regular physical activity and wellness practices. We know this is a lot to consider, and it’s okay to struggle finding a balance. Taking care of your mind and body will allow your body systems to function properly and improve resilience if you do end up becoming sick or injured.(5)
We know this sounds like a long and overwhelming to-do list. "Who has the time to get 8 hours of sleep, have a check-up with the doctor, AND exercise?!" Here's the thing, it all comes down to prioritization and balance.
We have seen a shift over the last year-or-so in work-life balance as many of us began working from home during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Many people who have been abiding by the stay-at-home order have been missing their annual wellness visits and preventive care. This shift also resulted in a reduction in movement and physical activity for many people who stay home, and especially for those who work from home can end up sitting at their desks for hours.(6)
If you are working from home, ensuring you separate work and personal life is essential to finding balance in your life. We recommend having a designated start and end time for your workday as well as a designated, ergonomic workspace in the home. Ensuring a comfortable and organized space is essential for reducing stress and separating work from play. As tempting as it is to work from your bed, our brains will begin to correlate your bed with work and productivity—this makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep as our brains will release the neurotransmitters and hormones associated with work and stress, even when we are trying to rest.(7)
It is equally important to ensure you are incorporating movement during your workday. You may want to sit down and finish all of your work uninterrupted, but our bodies are meant to move and they need a break from being sedentary and sitting at our desks all day!
Try this: set a timer for every hour to get up and move. Whether you use a standing desk, go for a short walk, or do some stretches at your desk, any movement will increase blood flow, reduce brain fog, and increase productivity. Engaging in regular physical activity to keep your body healthy is one of the best things you can do for prevention of chronic disease.
Increasing physical activity and movement is just one piece of the puzzle of self-care. It is also important to eat healthily and fuel our bodies with all of the vitamins and nutrients we need. Eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables throughout the day is a great way to ensure you are getting the nutrients that your body needs to function at its best.
Try this: make half of your plate vegetables at every meal.
Now is the time to put yourself and your health first. Work with your providers, pharmacist, and care team to help guide you through the preventative care process and manage your chronic conditions. If we do not do this now, we may overwhelm our healthcare system and have poor health outcomes when the pandemic is finally over.
Please call the Care Coordination team at ivira if you have any questions regarding preventative care screenings or vaccine schedules at 302-274-0020. We are available M-F 9am-5pm. If you are part of a special population that we were not able to discuss in this post, (pregnant, immunocompromised, etc.) please feel free to call and speak to one of our clinical pharmacists. We’ll be there every step of the way.
Click here to find out more about our Care Compass Program!
If you are struggling with chronic stress and need assistance, please reach out to a mental health professional.
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