Looking out for your health in 2020

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We have laid to rest another year and are embracing a new year full of hope and possibilities. It would be insightful to immerse forward into 2020, a new decade with a positive and productive perspective. While many of us have made New Year resolutions that we may find difficult and impossible to bring to fruition, maybe it would be beneficial to adopt some practices that are realistically easy and attainable.

We all can attest that making concessions for individual improvement can be highly personal and private, but there is one resolution we all can embrace. It can be beneficial for all involved. This resolution is to work more assiduously to monitor and improve our health. This is important because our health is probably the most important factor in dictating our social, physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual well being.

A healthy body and mind are paramount to maintaining and manifesting a peace of mind that is instrumental in contributing to being the best you can be in all your daily endeavors. We all can work daily to improve our health—eat healthier, exercise more and make routine doctor visits to monitor our health. The older we become, the more necessary it is to be cognizant of interventions to offset or detect hereditary or environmental illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and cancers (colon and prostrate among men and breast and cervical among women). Many African Americans have a higher propensity or predisposition to acquiring these diseases.

Being  more  mindful of one’s health is a factor too many of us take for granted until we are forced to acknowledge it or until chronic or permanent damage is done. We have been told time and time again by experts and stringent clinical studies that most illnesses or health related issues could be prevented through education, intervention. They may be treated successfully through early screening and diagnosis. But all too often the main culprit attributing to health problems is the victim themselves, refusing to acknowledge or seek treatment until absolutely necessary. By then, the problem sometimes has become exacerbated and can no longer be ignored. Sometimes it’s too late.

While ignoring or procrastinating about routine yearly physical examinations and needed visits to the doctor is prevalent among many older adults, this practice is more prevalent in the African American community. This is very ironic when you look at the myriad of health disparities more common in the African American community.

Blacks may be hesitant or leery about not trusting the medical community because of documented study cases showing Blacks being used as guinea pigs in clandestine government sponsor research projects (such as the Tuskegee Project in which 600 Black men were unknowingly injected with syphilis and monitored and studied untreated for years. Other extenuating factors that may hinder Blacks from doctor visits include inadequate access to care and lack of cultural sensitivity. Regardless of personal feelings, Blacks must not let past or occurring practices play a part in contributing to their lack of health attention leading to premature death.

While African Americans comprise approximately 14% of this country’s population, some studies show that Blacks have more asthma than any other ethnic group, and suffer three times more from sarcoidosis than their White counterparts. Black American children are three times more likely than White children to suffer from sleep apnea. Blacks must also address and tackle mental health issues from depression, anxiety and drug abuse that are prevalent in the Black community.

Going into 2020, we must take control of our physical, mental, psychological and emotional destiny by taking a more responsible position in monitoring and maintaining our health. Eating healthier, exercising  more, early screening and doctor visits (when in doubt) can  contribute to lengthening your life. The concessions we make depend on the individual, but it is a quest we all can work on to make 2020 a more healthy and productive year. Let’s dedicate 2020 to collectively improving our health.