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Consumer Reports Calls for an Update in Living Will as Part of 2012 Health Tips

Tim Boyer's picture
Living Will

Are you tired of reading yet another “How to Lose Weight for a Healthier You” article filled with burdensome weight loss and indigestible dieting tips? Well, if you are then you are in luck. Consumer Reports has just released a health tip list of the top 10 health tips for 2012 that contains information atypical of what you will find in most health tip recommendations.

Losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising more are the big three when it comes to health tip advice. And for good reason. All three have more to do with our long-term health than any other tip topics. However, tips that can play a more immediate impact on our health are sometimes easier to follow.

In the January issue of Consumer Reports, Marvin Lipman, M.D., clinical professor of medicine emeritus at New York Medical
College offers 10 health tips that are both of immediate value and not so difficult as losing ten pounds. By following his 10 tips you will accomplish more than extending your life—you may wind up saving another person’s life as well.

1. Review and update your immunizations with your doctor
Adults should be protected against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and probably hepatitis A and B. Young men and women should consider immunization against human papillomavirus (HPV). All adults over 60 should be vaccinated against shingles and pneumonia, and everyone should have an annual flu shot.

2. Create or update your living will and name a health-care proxy
You can't predict when you might become incapacitated by an illness or accident. A living will can be instrumental not only in limiting invasive steps that aren't likely to improve your outcome but also in preventing arguments among those close to you about what you would have wanted.

3. Review your medications with your doctor regularly
That includes nonprescription drugs and supplements, too. Such discussions can help ensure you're taking your medications properly and that all of them are listed in your medical record. They can also help identify drugs that you no longer need and that you can stop or take in lower doses.

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4. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or update your training
Knowing what to do until the ambulance arrives can make the difference between life and death for someone close—or a stranger. And approved techniques have become simpler over the years. You can find a class through the American Red Cross or by contacting your local hospital.

5. Donate blood
It's always in short supply, and if you're healthy and not taking a lot of medications, you can donate a pint every two months from age 17 until well up into your 70s. Each pint can save as many as three lives. And don't think that just because you have a common blood type, it's not needed; common types are as essential as rare ones.

6. Support your local volunteer ambulance corps
I have observed the efforts of those valiant men and women many times. Their on-the-scene judgments have been superb, and their use of emergency interventions on the way to the hospital has saved the life of many an otherwise doomed patient. Help them do their good work by volunteering or making a donation.

7. Discard outdated medications
Except for tetracycline, expired drugs generally don't appear to cause harm. But they do become less potent. In particular, throw out any drug more than a year past its expiration date. For tips on how to safely dispose of drugs, go to www.fda.gov.

8. Carry a medical ID at all times
It can be a medallion or bracelet or just a card in your wallet. Include your doctor's name, an emergency contact, and your medical conditions, medications, and drug allergies.

9. Check batteries in fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
And make sure home fire extinguishers are full.

10. View drug ads with skepticism
That goes even more so for dietary supplements. Remember, the sole purpose of any ad is to sell a product. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reference: Consumer Reports Jan. 2012
Image source of a Living Will: Wikipedia