Making Health Investments

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People make investments  all the time, whether it be purchasing a vehicle, closing on a new home, buying an antique in hope of its value increasing over time, or simply investing in the stock market. While doing this brings us some form of gratification, and has the potential to expand our wealth in the long term, do we ever take the time needed to invest in our health? A recent Huffington Post article stated that “too many of us wait to do health planning until we have no choice.” Of all of the reasons given to support negligence in health awareness, researchers have identified three areas that guide our decision making when it comes to choosing to opt-out of making healthy investments.

First, there could be a low perceived need for medical care. Sometimes, there is a tendency to dismiss the signals that our bodies give us hinting that something wrong could be going on internally. It is easy to pass off those feelings by saying “I will get over it,” or “This too shall pass.”  When this happens not only are our bodies at risk of becoming worse, but the cost in health care expenses increase significantly.

Next, there are traditional barriers that can hinder our investments such as cost and transportation. In the most recent community needs assessment for Robeson County, lack of transportation, being unable to pay high deductibles, low health literacy, and longer waiting periods to secure appointments were all mentioned as barriers within our county.

Finally, most may fear an unfavorable outcome. For example, receiving a new diagnosis, not wanting to hear bad news, being referred to a physician that you do not trust, or feeling that exceptional medical care will not be provided are some reasons people neglect health care. Although these reasons appear valid, they all point to the need to be more proactive in making sure that our health comes first.

With this in mind, we must consider the resources that are available in our community that can enable our citizens to make healthy investments. Specifically, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for Adults is a wonderful way to start. EFNEP is a federally funded nutrition education program that is offered free to limited resource and low-income families in Robeson County. EFNEP’s mission is to improve the health behaviors of participants to reduce their risk from chronic diseases. Classes are offered throughout the county and typically last for six to ten weeks.

Individuals who participate in the program are taught to prepare and eat more meals at home, learn about increasing physical activity, learn how to manage food resources, and gain more knowledge about food safety. Making the decision to participate in these classes not only increases your understanding of many topics, but is a great investment for your overall health.

For more information on EFNEP, contact Ashley McRae, Extension Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at Ashley_McRae@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

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