The Safety Net
Healthy Lifestyles for Consumers
What can Service Providers do to promote a healthy lifestyle for consumers?
As a service provider, you are in a unique position to assist consumers toward a healthier way of living. Healthy people live longer and have an improved quality of life. They experience less injury and illness. The U.S. Surgeon General established the Healthy People initiative in 1979. It is updated every ten years and includes health objectives for people with disabilities. There are ten Leading Health Indicators with twenty-two supporting objectives. You can read more and get details at http://health.gov/healthypeople/LHI/Resources.htm. Go to this page and check out the Resources section. You will find many recommended web sites that relate to each of these Health Indicators.
The Ten Leading Health Indicators are:
- Physical Activity
- Overweight and Obesity
- Tobacco Use
- Substance Abuse
- Responsible Sexual Behavior
- Mental Health
- Injury and Violence
- Environmental Quality
- Access to Health Care
Physical activity is addressed on this web site in this month’s Research and Current Trends article. There are dozens of ideas for helping people with developmental disabilities to be more active. It’s good for staff, too.
Overweight and obesity are chronic issues for many consumers. As a provider, you can help consumers follow diet and exercise recommendations from physicians. Look at www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity for more information.
Tobacco use causes many serious health conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema. Efforts to reduce or eliminate smoking should be supported. Consumer-established agreements/house rules should protect non-smokers from breathing second hand smoke.
Substance abuse by consumers can be particularly difficult to deal with in the home and the workplace. Go to the archived articles on this web site or use the Search feature since this topic was the subject of the month in January, 2003.
Responsible sexual behavior is a health issue as well as a social issue. Be sure that consumers have access to appropriate education and support. For more information and help for staff who may wish to learn more go to the following site: http://www.disability.vic.gov.au/dsonline/darticles.nsf/pages
Mental health is an indicator of quality of life. People with dual diagnoses can lead healthy, productive lives. Self medication training, counseling and treatment plan follow through are some examples of the supports that may be provided to enhance a person’s mental health status. For more information look at the resource list at:
http://www.npi.ucla.edu/mhdd/INFO/formoreinfo.htm or consult this web site in August, 2003, when that topic will be featured.
Injury and violence are typically preventable. Protect against injury by ensuring that the home or workplace is a safe environment. Use home maintenance checklists found on this web site or others that you may have or develop. Check other featured articles on fall prevention. Education for consumers to avoid being the victim of a crime may help prevent violence. Violence from other consumers must be managed with intervention and a carefully planned behavior program. Being the victim of a violent crime is traumatic and requires support. Therapeutic support may be needed.
Environmental quality includes clean air and water, a safe neighborhood and no exposure to toxins. Help consumers be good citizens by participating in volunteer activities such as neighborhood clean up days and recycling programs. Watch for air quality alerts especially for consumers with respiratory problems. Be a good example.
Immunizations mean more than just shots for children and travelers to foreign countries. Flu shots and pneumococcus vaccine can save lives. For immunization recommendations and more information, go to:
Access to health care is important to all of us, and like some other citizens, persons with developmental disabilities may not be receiving adequate health care for reasons such as financial constraints, inability to advocate for themselves, or unrecognized health problems. Location of their home or location of health care resources may present transportation problems. Providers of services to persons with developmental disabilities can learn more by checking out: www.ddhealthinfo.org. This site is particularly helpful for health care providers.