Your Healthy Community: A new start, a new year

Katie Sciba

Her 8-year-old letter to Santa was honest and to the point. She said she didn't know what she wanted because she knew her mom and dad wouldn't get her what she asked for.

Then she said, "But, please, if you could, would you get me a real sheep? I don't care what color it is. I just want a real sheep. Love, Lydia."

I smiled. The sheep was already in the stall waiting for her, and I hadn't even seen this Santa letter. It worked out beautifully.

We now own a sheep. How will this sheep-owning business work out in the end, I cannot tell you. All I know is we are in for an adventure, and why not?

Now, it's a new year for us all, and for a lot of us that means that we take a good look at our lives and circumstances. You may not be facing that you are a new sheep owner like me, but this is South Texas.

There is something about the holidays and the new year that causes us to reflect on what we might do differently or what we are facing ahead and how we will handle it. It's a chance for a new start.

The other night, I stood in that stall with those sheep eyes staring at me. I watched her munching on the alfalfa, and I wondered what else this year will hold. What will this year hold for you? This is a good time to reflect on your health as a whole and consider what you can change to better it.

There are many things we cannot control, but there are plenty of things you can control by the choices you make each day. Taking steps to prevent illness and maintain wellness is a good start to staying healthy.

If you have Medicare, you should know that the Affordable Care Act has helped to expand the preventative services that are covered by Medicare. Here are just a few of the items covered by Medicare to prevent illness: cardiovascular disease screening, depression screenings, glaucoma tests, and tobacco use cessation screening. There are many test items covered, and you can view a complete list on medicare.gov or call 1-800-Medicare to find out more information.

Take care of your own health and health care by making appointments for wellness and preventative care. Use this new year to your own advantage to break bad habits and start new good habits. Quit smoking and drink more water. Find a way to exercise that works for you. Appreciate your family and stop complaining. Take your medication correctly.

Get organized with your health care benefits. Know what you have, what you need and what questions you need answered. Be smart with your information; don't let anyone trying to misuse your information pull the wool over your eyes. I wish you the best in this new year, in your health and in your life. Happy New Year.

Katie Sciba is a writer, a licensed social worker, a pastor's wife and a mother from Victoria. She works for AARN Health Services and blogs online at Always Simply Begin.