I Dare You to Leave a Legacy of Health

By Etta Hornsteiner
December 31st, 2018 Health & Wellness No Comments
seniors exercising, riding bikes

No two people are the same. You are unique. So despite health reports from the United Nations (UN) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the dire future of a growing aging population, you can be different and defy the odds and leave a legacy of health. Legacy is that impulse to care for those that come after.

A UN Report states that women aged 60 and over will likely experience depressive disorders, which are the leading cause of disability for them, followed by hearing loss, back and neck pain, Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and osteoarthritis.  For men aged 60 and over, hearing loss is likely to be the leading cause of disability, followed by back and neck pain, falls, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. A growing aging population will bring an increase in physical disabilities and issues related to cognitive loss as part of the aging process.

According to the CDC, 6 in 10 adults in the United States (US) have a chronic disease; 4 in 10 adults in the US have 2 or more. The leading causes of death and disability and the leading drivers of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual health care costs are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.

The key lifestyle risks for chronic disease are tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use.

Develop a healthy lifestyle

Despite these reports, you can develop a healthy lifestyle and leave a legacy for your family that defies these statistics.

Many organizations have set new goals for the New Year.

What about you? Have you set personal goals for your health?

What areas pertaining to your health can you improve?

What about nutritional goals, such as eating more foods that ward off chronic inflammation? Chronic inflammation is said to be the culprit behind chronic diseases.

Can you move and exercise more and consistently? Exercise can also help reduce chronic inflammation.

A health goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, action-oriented, reasonable/realistic, and timely.

Here are 2 health goal examples using the SMART steps :

#1 Health goal example: To adapt a plant-based diet

Specific—My meals will mainly consist of fruits and vegetables.

Measurable— I will eat a cup of fruits and 2 cups of vegetables as part of each meal every day.leave a legacy-farmers market


  1. Shop at the farmer’s market for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  2. Find health and wellness books with a body, mind and soul focus that will inspire me to make this change. Suggested books: In Pursuit of Health and Longevity: Wellness Pioneers Through the Centuries or The Ten Guiding Lights to Health and Wholeness.
  3. Recruit an accountability partner or buddy for support.
  4. Keep a record of my food intake and my feelings before and after each meal.

Reasonable/realistic—I can include a cup of fruits in the morning and 2 cups of raw vegetables as a salad for my other meals.

Timely—In 3 months I will begin to adapt a plant-based diet.

#2 Health goal example: To incorporate more movement and exercise

Specific—I will take 7,000 steps a day.

Measurable—I will use my fitness tracker to measure my steps. Click here to find best fitness trackers.man and woman walking


  1. Take the stairs at work rather than the elevator.
  2. Pick the farthest parking spot.
  3. Walk the dog every day.
  4. Walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes four days a week.
  5. Find an accountability partner or buddy for support.

Reasonable/realistic—As long as I am able and as long as I have breath in my body, I will incorporate these movements and exercise.

Timely— In 3 months I will be more physically active.

Making behavioral changes is never easy. If you don’t succeed initially, always readjust your goal but never condemn yourself. When you do succeed, reward yourself and set new ones.

Leaving a legacy of health

We should be motivated to live healthily to prevent diseases and thus reduce the cost of healthcare, but we’re not. Unfortunately, “people generally respond more to the potential of loss than of gain,” writes Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor of Healthcare Finance. In other words, it’s the fear of a loss that is, perhaps, the motivating factor.

In an article posted in Healthcare Finance on October 19, 2017, David Ash, MD, MBA, a John Morgan professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and Wharton School, and executive director of the Center for Health Care Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, says it is important first to understand the “psychological underpinnings that motivate people to make lasting change.” He recounts a program conducted by University of Pennsylvania:

UPenn implemented a program that tested this psychological motivator by placing employees into two groups—those in the first group received an extra $1.40 per day that they walked at least 7,000 steps, while the second group had $1.40 taken away if they failed to walk 7,000 steps. The employees in the second group—who faced having money taken away—were 50 percent more likely to succeed.

If you do not want to suffer physical disability or cognitive loss as you age, then set health goals that will encourage you to leave a legacy of health.

Many people think of leaving wealth as their legacy, but your health is also a form of wealth, for the healthier you are, the more likely you are at keeping your health care costs down.

Because life can still happen, there is a way to still secure your savings by investing in your health. Reputable continuing care organizations such as Woodhaven At Home offer unique, affordable ways to invest in your health. One of Woodhaven’s unique plans is designed for people who want to age “in place”, that is, in your own home. The plan is practical and offers advantages that a traditional long-term care plan does not offer.

Read more about it here.

You can leave not only your home as a part of your legacy but also your health.

Teach your heirs healthy habits that they, too, can pass down.

By teaching them how to manage their health, you are teaching them to decrease the cost of their healthcare.

And even if you are diagnosed with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you can still manage these conditions through a healthy lifestyle.

Final Thoughts

Woodhaven At Home is here to help you. Our wellness coaches and care coordinators can help you set your health goals.  Remember, no two individuals are alike. Our plans are customized to meet your needs and objectives. We dare you to leave a legacy of health.

Leave a legacy quotes

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” —Benjamin Disraeli

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.” —Steve Saint



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