Ask an Expert: How Can You Encourage a Loved One to Start Preventive Care?

This article is part of Health Divide: Heart Disease Risk Factors, a destination in our Health Divide series.

ask an expert Dr. Velarde

Julie Bang / Verywell

Meet the Expert

Gladys Velarde, M.D. is a member of the American College of Cardiology Prevention, Disparities of Care Work Group, and on the CardioSmart.org editorial board. Dr. Velarde's clinical interests include heart disease in women and other populations along with preventive care.

Verywell Health: How can you encourage a loved one to start preventive care?

Dr. Velarde: A lot of the lifestyle changes we recommend are closely tied to important parts of people’s lives: family, faith, and community. This is especially true for patients from racial and ethnic minority groups.

One way to encourage people to engage in preventive care is by encouraging their family members and communities as well. Changes are more successful when there is a group effort, and you tend to see better outcomes when you involve the community or family.

Healthcare providers often forget that we don’t just treat individuals, we treat their families. This applies to all groups, but particularly to the Latinx and Black communities that are so family-, faith-, and community-centric. So, when you involve family members, you engage the environment that the patient comes from, and they are more likely to find tools and resources that fit their cultural environment.

In the case of food, Latin American food is extraordinarily diverse and extremely rich in wonderful nutrients like fiber, grains, and plant-based protein. However, oftentimes what is commercially packaged, more affordable, or more available may not be the best options. Therefore, we need to be better-informed consumers and be proactive in learning what’s in the foods we eat.

The same goes for movement. You don’t necessarily have to engage in running or intense aerobic exercise, which can be seen as laborious or intimidating. But you can try simply walking, dancing, or engaging in other activities that fit within your cultural environment. In this way, communities can build each other up and reinforce the vision of prevention as a collective healthy lifestyle.

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