Monday Medical: Give the gift of health

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— Holiday stress and winter’s short days and low temperatures can be tough on our bodies and states of mind.

Luckily, many community resources are available to help us and those we love make positive changes and live healthier. The following are just a few ways to get 2012 off to a good start.

■ Keep your mental health in check. Support is available to help relieve stress, anxiety or depression. Steamboat Mental Health Center provides mental health and substance abuse counseling on a sliding scale. The center also offers 24-hour emergency mental health services and a crisis hotline: 970-870-1244.

■ Learn about local mental health professionals and their specialties at www.steamboatcounseling.com. See if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program to help pay for visits with a mental health professional. Take advantage of community education about mental health.

■ Integrated Health at Yampa Valley Medical Center offers psychoeducational seminars on issues such as compulsive eating, stress and anxiety and seasonal affective disorder. For more information, call 970-875-2731.

■ Get a flu shot. It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Everyone ages 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine each year, especially young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with health conditions.

The cost of adult flu vaccines at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association has been reduced to $16. Flu vaccines for children are $14 or less. A high-dose vaccine for seniors also is available.

VNA drop-in flu clinics are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through January. For more information about flu or other vaccines, call 970-879-1632.

■ Exercise. Winter can be a challenging time to get moving, but there are affordable options for developing safe, indoor exercise routines. Aging Well, a program of the Northwest Colorado VNA, offers a variety of fitness classes for adults 50 and older throughout Routt County. Stop by the VNA to pick up a winter calendar, or call 970-871-7676.

■ Colorado Mountain College offers an array of non-credit fitness classes including Pilates, yoga and Zumba. There’s still time to register for spring classes, which begin Jan. 16. Call 970-870-4444.

■ Educate yourself. Have you or someone you know recently been diagnosed with a health problem? The Community Health Resource Center at YVMC is a treasure trove of free information about almost any health matter.

Staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, the center offers books, journals, articles and access to subscription-only medical websites to help visitors find the information they need. All services are free. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays during the winter. Call 970-870-1173.

■ Quit tobacco. Do you want to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco, or do you want to help someone quit? Stop by the “Tobacco Cessation Station” in the lobby of the Northwest Colorado VNA.

Build a “Quit Kit” with a cessation journal, information about the Colorado QuitLine and other support materials for adults, teens and pregnant women. For more information about tobacco cessation, call 970-875-1883.

■ Get screened. Does disease run in your family or are you concerned about your health? Various medical providers and clinics offer low-cost or free health screenings. The Northwest Colorado VNA has cardiovascular (heart) screenings and diabetes screenings available for free.

The VNA also offers free annual clinical breast exams, Pap tests/pelvic exams, and mammograms to eligible women who are at a high risk for certain cancers.

The Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project (Bust of Steamboat) also may help pay for mammograms for uninsured or underinsured women. Call 970-846-4554 for information.

■ Have a nagging injury? SportsMed at YVMC offers $10 injury screenings. Talk to your doctor about other low-cost screenings available in the community and plan to take advantage of free screenings and low-cost blood tests at the community and senior health fairs in the fall.

■ Get support. Sometimes sharing thoughts with others in similar circumstances can help us keep our heads above water in difficult times. Support is available for people coping with a variety of hardships.

The Northwest Colorado VNA has ongoing bereavement support groups for adults and children who have lost a loved one. For more information, call 970-871-7628.

There also are local support groups for individuals who have lost someone to suicide, are caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia or are coping with alcohol or substance abuse. A complete list of support groups is published every Monday in the Steamboat Today.

Tamera Manzanares is a community outreach specialist for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

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