DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 60 years old, and I feel like I am fitting a stereotype for too many people my age. A few years ago, I started having little health issues that have grown into bigger ones. I currently take a handful of meds for diseases that were probably preventable if I had paid better attention years ago. I haven’t told any of my family members about my ailments because I am embarrassed. As an African American woman, it felt almost inevitable that I would get hypertension and diabetes, but I had told myself I wouldn’t let it happen to me. I have failed. I don’t want to admit this to my family. What can I do to take care of myself and still keep my secrets? -- Health Challenges
DEAR HEALTH CHALLENGES: The most important person for you to talk to is yourself, followed by your doctor. Stand in front of your mirror and speak your truth. What are you doing to deal with your health concerns? What has your doctor told you to do, and how well are you following directions? Your personal “Come to Jesus” moment is important because you must be committed to improving your health in order to be successful.
With renewed focus, go to see your doctor and talk about all of your health issues; work together to figure out a plan for optimal health. Ask about anything you can do that may help you to move past maintenance to potential cures for your conditions. Get a second opinion from a naturopath or another holistic health practitioner. Watch what you eat, and step up your fitness activities.
As far as your family is concerned, talk to them about your health when you are ready. You may find that they are far more supportive than you imagine. Do not allow yourself to be paralyzed by embarrassment. Now is the time to take action so that you can enjoy a high quality of life for as long as you live.