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Mother, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Partner, Veteran...Your Health Matters!

Contributed by Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group

Heart disease poster

Admit it. You are more likely to make an appointment for your daughter's annual checkup or leave work early to drive your mom to get her annual flu shot than take care of your own health care needs. Women are often self-sacrificing. The tendency to make time for everyone except you can be bad for your health.

You can manage or avoid many health problems. It is well known that following good nutrition and getting regular physical activity can improve long-term health. Making choices to live healthy is key for prevention and management of chronic disease. Women were asked about their nutrition and physical activity. Many reported going over the recommended daily intake of saturated fat and sodium. Only half said they did at least 10 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

Women, especially caregivers to chronically ill loved ones, often forego preventive care. This includes prenatal care, screenings and immunizations. "Women are so busy caring for aging parents, children, friends and siblings that they do not focus on their own health," said Sue Calentine (Women Veterans Program Manager for Michigan's Saginaw VA Medical Center). "We are constantly reminding women that their health is just as important."

Safety instructions on an airplane tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping children and elderly passengers traveling with you. Taking care of your health is the same idea. You need to be well in order to care for the people around you. That means:

  • Regular checkups

  • Immunizations

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle

Time invested now could mean added years of healthier time spent with loved ones. Call your local Women Veterans Program office. The Program Manager at your local VA facility will work with you. They will introduce you to the services that are available to you as an eligible woman Veteran. Reminding you that your health matters is VA's commitment to you.

Active Learning

Track Health (My HealtheVet) allows a registered user to record and track their health information in one convenient location. You can record your screening tests and immunizations for reference. Record and monitor your blood pressure, body weight and more in the Vitals section. Even see a graph of your progress. You can also journal your exercise routine and food intake in the Journals section. Using the Medical History logs, you could print out your entire record in a handy doctor's sheet. My HealtheVet has provided dozens of way to manage your health care. Start tracking your health today!

Exercising for a Healthy Life (MedlinePlus) - learn how exercising and becoming more active may improve your health

Managing Stress (MedlinePlus) - a learning activity that shows you how to manage everyday stress

Osteoporosis (MedlinePlus) - understand what osteoporosis is, as well as symptoms, causes and treatment

Smoking - The Facts (MedlinePlus) - understand why smoking is addictive and unhealthy

Pap Smear (MedlinePlus) - learn what a pap smear is, how it is done and why it is important

Read More

Preventive Health Care Tips for Women: A Checklist to Live By

Women's Health (MedlinePlus) - learn more about women and health

Read the Food Label (National Institutes of Health) - food labels can help you choose foods lower in sodium, as well as calories, saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol

Are you in a high-risk group for the seasonal flu?

You should get an annual seasonal flu shot each year if you wish to be protected against seasonal flu. In addition, be sure to ask your provider about a flu shot if you:

  • Are 50 years of age or older

  • Have certain chronic health problems

  • Are a healthcare worker

  • Live in a long-term care facility or nursing home

  • Are a woman who will be pregnant during flu season

  • Have any condition that makes it hard to breathe or swallow

Advanced Information

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) - recommendations for clinical preventive services

Updated May 1, 2010