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Resolutions We Love: A Guide to Improving Your Health & Wellness in 2024

With the holiday season behind us and the promise of a fresh start arriving with the New Year, January is a great time to start thinking about things we can do to improve our lives in 2024. While the verdict is still out on whether or not New Year’s resolutions really work, at Community Memorial Healthcare we believe there are some tried and true steps you can take to improve your overall health and wellness.

Our favorite resolutions don’t require joining a 30-day challenge or starting a new diet. Whether you’re in need of a complete health overhaul, or are just looking to build on the positive momentum you created in 2023, following these five tips will make a lasting positive impact on your life, and the lives of those around you.

Resolve to Build Your Healthcare Team

Have you or a loved one recently spent hours waiting at the Emergency Room (ER) or Urgent Care to be seen for a common illness such as RSV, Influenza, or an unrelenting cold? If so, you know how frustrating — and often expensive — these visits can be. But did you know one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary trips to the ER or Urgent Care is to establish and maintain a relationship with a Primary Care Provider (PCP)?

PCPs, which include family medicine physicians, internists, geriatricians, and pediatricians, are in charge of your overall health. They help keep you well by conducting your annual wellness exam, coordinating preventative screenings, administering vaccines, and advising you on lifestyle choices for optimal health. When a common illness or every day medical concern arises, they are your go-to provider. Most PCPs even keep same-day or telehealth appointments available for established patients who need to be seen right away.

Your PCP will also help you build the rest of your healthcare team. Armed with your medical history and a more long-term understanding of your health, they will identify and provide referrals for specialist to meet your unique needs. This includes OB/GYNs, urologists, sports medicine physicians or orthopedists, endocrinologist, dentists, optometrists or ophthalmologists, registered dietitians, physical therapists, and more.

Despite the crucial role they play, nearly one-third of Americans don’t have a primary care provider. If you fall into this category, resolve to establish this crucial relationship now. Community Memorial’s Provider Directory is a great place to start your search. There, you’ll find a variety of physicians across west Ventura County who practice at the Community Memorial Health Centers or are members of our Medical Staff. Once you find a provider who seems like a good fit, call to schedule an initial visit. Taking this step will form the foundation of your health for 2024 and beyond.

Resolve to Get Screened

Are you one of the millions of Americans who put off their annual mammogram, colonoscopy, or other screening during the COVID-19 pandemic and have yet to get it back on the calendar? Make 2024 the year you get back in the habit — it could save your life.

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer detected in its early, localized stage is 99%. Regular breast self-exams and annual mammograms beginning at age 40 are the best strategies for early detection. If you have a family history of breast cancer or other significant risk factors, your doctor may recommend beginning regular screening mammograms early. Community Memorial’s comprehensive Breast Health program offers 3D mammography in Ojai and Ventura, as well as breast ultrasound, breast MRI, and breast biopsy at our Breast Center in Ventura.

Regular colonoscopies also contribute significantly to the early detection of colorectal cancers. The American Society of Clinical Oncology reports that early, localized-stage colon cancer has a 90% 5-year survival rate, but only about 36% of patients are diagnosed at this stage. Current guidelines recommend individuals at average risk for colorectal cancer have their first screening at age 45. For those with a family history of colorectal cancer or other elevated risk factors, screenings may be recommended at an earlier age and/or higher frequency. The Gastrointestinal (GI) Lab at Community Memorial Hospital – Ventura performs a variety of procedures including screening and diagnostic colonoscopy and polyp removal and biopsy. Talk to your primary care provider about your family history, personal risk factors, and getting regular screenings on your calendar.

Resolve to Plan Ahead

When it comes to health, no one really likes to plan for the worst-case scenario. Not only can it be emotionally draining to think through a terminal diagnosis or tragic accident, but involving loved ones in your planning for end of life care often presents a challenging dynamic. Still, taking the time to decide on — and formally document — your care preferences is a major step toward ensuring your preferences for care are known and honored in the unfortunate event that you are unable to speak for yourself.

To help make the process of Advance Care Planning easier, Community Memorial offers an exclusive video series to help you learn about the importance of advance care planning, how to identify and document your preferences for care, how to choose a healthcare agent, and more. We also offer quick links to the California Advanced Healthcare Directive documents in English and Spanish.

Even if you’re young and healthy, resolve to plan ahead this year. It’s difficult to know what tomorrow may bring, but having your healthcare wishes formally documented will bring you and your loved ones peace of mind for years to come.

Resolve to Ask for Help

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 43.5 million Americans have provided unpaid care for a sick or disabled adult or child in the last year. If you’re one of these caregivers, you know how overwhelming and exhausting the role can be. Whether permanent or temporary, it almost always takes a toll. Luckily, you don’t have to navigate it on your own, and there is no shame in asking for support. We’re here for you.

Community Memorial’s Caregiver Navigator Program provides resources and support to those caring for patients with complex medical conditions, mental health issues, substance use disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and more. Available to anyone helping to care for a patient of Community Memorial Health Centers, this program connects caregivers with specially trained Caregiver Navigators who asses you loved one’s care needs and identify areas for improvement. They address your needs as a caregiver and connect you to relevant resources such as home health and respite care, assist with communication amongst your loved one’s healthcare providers, and create opportunities for you to better understand your loved one’s condition. To learn more about this program, listen to this podcast or call 805-948-5803 and one of our team members will be happy to answer your questions.

Community Memorial also offers a free Caregiver Support Group on a weekly basis. This group is open to anyone filling the caregiver role and is facilitated by a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. It provides a brief respite for caregivers to focus on self-care and serves as a place of rejuvenation in the company of others who face similar challenges. Click here to learn more.

Resolve to Move More

Getting healthier doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to overhaul your whole routine all at once. Small increases in daily movement — such as adding a ten-minute walk after each meal — can have a big impact over time.

Start by evaluating how much you’re currently moving and what a manageable increase would be. For example, if you’re currently walking about 5,000 steps each day, a reasonable goal may be to increase to 7,500 steps each day. Or, if you’re attending two yoga classes each week, try adding a third class each week. Remember — consistency is key, so focus on setting a movement target you can meet and stick to.

If you’re interested in trying new classes, starting a structured strength routine, or just having some additional accountability, the Community Memorial Wellness & Fitness Center has a variety of resources available not only to help you move more, but also move better. We offer Body Composition and Functional Movement Screenings to help you understand your current state of wellness and set goals, and Certified Personal Trainers are available to develop custom plans and guide your workouts in one-on-one or small group settings. If you’re looking for support with overall lifestyle change, or want to make improvements in specific areas such as weight management, sleep, nutrition, or stress management, we also offer Health & Wellness Coaching. This evidence-based approach pairs you with a Board Certified Coach to create sustainable change in areas of your life beyond physical fitness.

When you join the Community Memorial Wellness & Fitness Center, you can expect more than a traditional gym. Stop by and check us out, or click here for more information. Trial memberships are available!