The CDC Promotes Healthy Lifestyles for PwD

Today, about 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5 people, are living with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability some time during the course of their lives. Anyone can have a disability.

People with disabilities face many barriers to good health. Studies show that individuals with disabilities are more likely than people without disabilities to report:
Having poorer overall health.
Having less access to adequate health care.
Having no access to health insurance.
Skipping medical care because cost.

Engaging in risky health behaviors, including smoking and physical inactivity.
People with disabilities can lead long healthy lives. Many can and do go to school and attend places of worship. They also vote, marry, have children, work, and play. Having a disability does not mean a person can’t be healthy.
People with or without disabilities can stay healthy by having health care access and living healthy lifestyles.

To be healthy, people with disabilities require health care that meets their needs as a whole person, not just as a person with a disability.
Learn What You Can Do
Get the best possible healthcare
Get Tips on leading a healthy life and for getting physically fit.
Improve the health and wellness of people with disabilities
Person with Disability:
Make Sure You are Getting the Best Possible Healthcare
There are also many things you can do to make sure you are getting the best possible health care:
Know your body, how you feel when you’re well and when you’re not.
Get regular preventive screenings (e.g., mammograms, prostate, colorectal)
Talk openly with your health care professional about your concerns.
Find out who the best health care professionals are in your area to meet your needs.
Check to be sure you can get into your health care professional’s office and that he or she has the staff and equipment you need.
Think through your concerns before you visit your health care professional.
Bring your health records with you.
Take a friend with you, if you’re concerned you might not remember all your questions and all the answers.
Get it in writing. Write down, or have someone write down for you, what is said by the health care professional.
Ask for help finding more information through materials like brochures, or at specific Web pages on the Internet.
Tips for Leading a Long and Healthy Life
Children and adults with disabilities are less likely to be of healthy weight and more likely to be obese than children and adults without disabilities.
Overweight and obesity can have serious health consequences for all people. Learn more…
Eat healthy foods in healthy portions.
Be physically active every day.
Don’t get too much sun.
Get regular checkups.
Don’t smoke or use illegal drugs.
Use medicines wisely.
If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation.
Stay in touch with family and friends.
If you need help, talk with your healthcare professional.
Tips for Getting Physically Fit

To be healthy, all adults should be physically active 30 minutes a day at least 5 days each week; all children should be active for 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days each week.
Set physical activity goals that you can reach.
Track what you do.
Reward yourself when you meet your goals.
Seek support from your friends and family members. Ask them to join you in your activities.
Don’t give up. If you miss a day, don’t quit. Just start again.
For more tips and information on disability and health, you can read The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities: What It Means to You. Also called the “People’s Piece,” it provides helpful ways to improve everyone’s knowledge about the health and wellness of people with disabilities
Improve the Health and Wellness of People with Disabilities
Health Care Provider:
You can do a lot to improve the health and wellness of people with disabilities. For instance, you can:

Video: Mark’s Story
This video tells the story of Mark and his role as a person helping future health care providers improve their care of people with disabilities. The intent of this video is not to endorse specific activities, but to share one man’s story, experience, and hope.

Address the medical needs of the whole person, not just the disability.
Be as attentive to concerns of pain, depression, job pressures, smoking and alcohol use as you are with all patients.
Be aware and patient of the extra time it might take a person with a disability to speak or act.
Recommend and monitor clinical preventive services as closely as will other patients.
Know that the facilities you refer patients to for preventive screenings (e.g., mammograms) are accessible.
Ensure that your facility is fully accessible (e.g., parking, exam tables, restrooms, etc).
Ask the person with a disability if he or she needs any help. Do not assume help is needed.
Understand that not having access to work, school, health care, or fun things to do can cause more problems than a disability itself.
Seek training on disability competence for health professionals.

More Information

Disability & Health – CDC
Physical Activity and Disability
The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010 (US Department of Health and Human Services)
Office on Disability (US Department of Health and Human Services)
20th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
Healthy Living – CDC
Health Care: See Why Being Insured Matters
CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

4 thoughts on “The CDC Promotes Healthy Lifestyles for PwD”

  1. “Address the medical needs of the whole person, not just the disability. I love this quote and how it relates to the OT field. As a future OTR I need to remember this quote, because we need to look at the person more holistically.


    1. Brent I completely agree. I think this is the most important aspect of OT. We need to look at each individual for who they are: more than just their disability. Each person has different wants and needs, and it is our job as OTs to help restore meaning and purpose in their daily life.


  2. “Address the medical needs of the whole person, not just the disability.” I love this sentence in the article because many health care providers do not think this way and that is sad. As a future OTR I need to continue to look at the person as a whole in order to become the best therapist as possible.


  3. This is good factual information that I believe is important for many people to know. I liked how everything was summed up into different categories. I find this information to be helpful.


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