Lecture on Living Healthy with Chronic Conditions

Audience were taking notes and asking questions to Fredericks. Photo by Faye Zheng.

One-fourth of Americans live with chronic conditions, but they can choose to live in a healthy way.  Registered nurses Pamela Fredericks and Soo (Irene) Li from South Shore Hospital presented a lecture “Living Healthy with Chronic Conditions” to about 20 Chinese seniors at the Thomas Public Library in Quincy on August 16.

Fredericks introduced that 70 percent of chronic illnesses are preventable and it is important to do regular check and keep track of your health condition. She said that many Asian Americans do not pay enough attention to prevention nor visit the doctors unless they get sick. Regular check-ups and early prevention can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses.

“Many people don’t know that cancers are preventable. It is always better to prevent than to cure,” said Fredericks.

According to Fredericks, leading causes of death for Asian Americans including cancer, influenza and pneumonia, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, among which, diabetes is the top one cause.
Living environment, behavior, health care, finance conditions and gene are major elements that determine one’s health. Among them, behavior and gene are the most significant contributors. The prior contributes 40 percent and the later contributes 30 percent to our health.

“This 40 percent contributed by behavior are controllable. For example, we can choose not to smoke and it will lower risk for cancer,” said Fredericks.
Fredericks also mentioned the importance of improving diet and gave a few suggestions including drinking water instead of juice or other soft drinks, reducing meat consumption to less than 20 percent in a daily diet, controlling portion of food, low fat cooking and reducing sugar and salt by two-third.

“For example, if you used to add salt three times to a dish, reduce it to one,” said Fredericks.
Fredericks also introduced major measurements for health, such as blood pressure of 120/80 or lower, total cholesterol below 200, feeling well and being active, and waist circumstance. She singled out waist circumstance and explained that Asian Americans should use a different measurement from Caucasian. She told the audience to be aware of the difference and suggest them to bring it up when visiting doctors.

“For example, Asian women with 32 inches of waist circumstance have the same risk of heart disease as Caucasian women with 35 inches of waist circumstance,” she said.

To summarize a healthy life, Fredericks suggests to have a positive attitude, get regular exercise, eat a balanced & healthy diet, learn to say “No, thanks,” avoid smoking and second hand smoking, maintain a healthy weight.

“The lecture is helpful to me. Now I know that prevention is better than treatment,” said May, a resident from Westbound, “My mother has type 2 diabetes and the doctor told me that it’s in our family genes. Now I learn that genes only contribute 30 percent to our health while behavior contributes 40 percent. I can prevent myself from getting diabetes through controlling my behavior and leading a healthy way of life.”

Soo Li can speak both English and Cantonese. She made vivid explaination of Fredericks’ speech in Cantonese to audiences.

This lecture is part of monthly health seminar hosted by Quincy Medical Center, Thomas Public Library, Quincy Asian Resources Inc., Chinese Golden Age Center, South Shore Elder Services and South Shore Visiting Nurse Association. Mandarin and Cantonese translation services are available.

The next health seminar will present free “Chair Yoga for Seniors” every Wednesdays in October at 10:00 a.m. To RSVP, please call Quincy Asian Resources at (617) 472-2200. Seats are limited.

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