Passages Hospice Promotes Quality of Life During National Public Health Week

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Most Americans live where water is clean, food is plentiful and medical care is readily available. Yet for the first time in United States history, the current generation of children may live shorter lives than their parents. The American Public Health Association (APHA) estimates that about 900,000 people die each year from preventable causes including obesity, smoking and diseases for which there are vaccinations.

During National Public Health Week (April 5-11), the APHA is encouraging citizens from all over the country to create “A Healthier America: One Community at a Time”. If each community focuses on a making a few positive changes, there will be a ripple effect across the country. The easiest way to start is to take small steps and think big: make one healthy change today and keep an open mind about how it can affect others.

Take a small step today:

  • Eat a piece of fruit or snack on vegetables instead of chips or candy
  • Park the car in a spot furthest from the grocery store or mall door
  • Cut back on cigarettes and research ways to quit

Think big about how to change the community:

  • Plan a 5K walk or run to benefit a deserving local organization
  • Organize a neighborhood trip to a nature center or forest preserve
  • Gather healthy recipes to create a community cookbook

Remember that a healthy lifestyle isn’t only about the number on the scale but includes physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Participating in fun activities can lower the risk of stress-related illnesses including heart disease and stroke. If formal exercise seems intimidating, turn up the music and have a dance party in the living room. Anything that encourages movement and happiness can improve not only health, but quality of life.    

Quality of life can be encouraged at any age and under any conditions. Carmen Velez, Director of Clinical Services for Passages Hospice says, “A healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise play a big role in how we feel mentally, physically and emotionally.” Both employees and patients of Passages Hospice are encouraged to find activities that are good for the body, mind and soul. Passages provides therapies that promote quality of life, including massage, interaction with pets, aromatherapy and most importantly, genuine human interaction.
Talking and spending time with people can be just as important as eating right and exercising, the AHPA says. People who were trying to quit smoking or follow a diet plan were more likely to succeed when they had regular encouragement from friends. Personal and community health can start the same way.

After taking a small step, get together with neighbors to brainstorm ideas to improve the whole town. Encourage the local government to clean up parks or establish a farmer’s market to make fresh produce more accessible. Most importantly, have a dialogue about the importance of public health and how everyone can work together to achieve it. Remember – one change today can make a difference for tomorrow.

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Charlene Sligting
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