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Botsford HealthSource Magazine
Help Teens Become Healthy Adults
Most of the 42 million teens in the United States are healthy. Many of them may believe they’ll stay that way forever.
“Yet most behaviors that determine our risk for heart disease, cancer and stroke begin in the teen years,” saysJeffrey Ghioto, D.O., a family medicine physician at Botsford Hospital. “Building healthy habits at this time can pay off years down the line.
”While experts recommend an annual checkup for adolescents, more than half haven’t had one. Even those who do see a doctor might not receive guidance on issues vital to teen health, such as eating right and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
Dr. Ghioto says, “That’s where you, as a parent, come in. Your teen may act embarrassed to be anywhere near you. But adolescents say they want their parents involved in their health and well-being.”
Your words and actions can lay the foundation for a healthy future. Dr. Ghioto recommends parents use these tips:
Get teens to seek care. Help your teen make—and keep—appointments with his or her primary care provider.
Help navigate the system. In a teen’s eyes, getting health care is complicated. Steer your teen to the right resource at the right time. Sources of care include doctors, nurses, dentists and school psychologists.
Call the shots. Teens and college students still need immunizations. Ask the doctor if your child should get vaccines for human papillomavirus, meningitis or other diseases.
Know the issues. If your teen has a chronic condition, like asthma, learn all you can about it. Brush up on the key health concerns for all teens, too. These include oral health, weight problems, violence and sports injuries.
Keep communication open. Let your teen know he or she can talk to you about anything. Share stories about your own fears and hopes from your own adolescence
Model healthy habits. Your teen learns by watching you. Make sure you’re choosing nutritious foods, securing your seat belt and not smoking.
Protect privacy. Teens need time alone to discuss issues with their doctors. You may feel strange about the doctor having more details than you do about some parts of your teen’s life. But this info can help protect your child’s health.