Parents of college-age students have a lot of experience in back-to school rituals, but when they are ready to go off to college and more independence, the ritual becomes more complex.
While shopping for bedding, dorm room supplies, books and laptops are on the top most parents’ to-do lists with college students, but it is also a great time to review their health record and encourage wellness tips.
According to Michael Parra, M.D., family practice physician with Providence Medical Group, it’s crucial for college-age students to have a healthy start to the new year. This includes making sure student recognize the importance of a healthy balanced life with good choices for diet, exercising, resting and understanding safety issues.
College-aged students should have a physical exam before heading off to college. This is a good time to make sure immunizations are up to date and hearing and vision haven’t changed.
Have your student’s immunization records checked to make sure the following immunizations are up-to-date:
- Tetanus-Diptheria-Pertussis vaccine
- Meningococcal vaccine*
- HPV vaccine series
- Hepatitis B vaccine series (shot is given in a series of three taking 5-6 months)
- Polio vaccine series
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine series
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine series
- Flu shot (influenza vaccine)
- Pneumococcal polysaccharid (PPV) vaccine
- Hepatitis A vaccine series
Educate your young adult children about their family health history, including any prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer or alcoholism.
To avoid that “freshman 15” talk to your college students about healthy eating options when they are headed to the dorm, fraternity or sorority. Just as when they were young children, a healthy breakfast and lunch are “musts” for young adults and can make a difference in their academic performance.
“It’s vital young adults learn and follow a balanced diet, with plenty of healthy foods from the five food groups…bread, cereal, rice and pasta; fruit; meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts; milk, yogurt and cheese; and vegetables,” Dr. Parra said.
“Dorms offer all kinds of food plans and choices and it’s important that students balance quick food choices with healthier options such as fruits and salad bars. It’s also important that students stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water,” said Dr. Parra.
Teach your students how to read labels and to select healthy foods. Encourage them consider the many healthy choices offered on salad bar when eating at fast food chains and encourage them to avoid milk shakes and fried foods when possible.
College bound students should participate in physical activities to maintain a balance between study and rest. “Many schools offer wellness programs, intramural sports and other opportunities to stay physically active,” said Dr. Parra. “Exercise helps to offset the stresses of college.”
College Packing list for Health
- List of current prescription and over the count medications
- Cold pack for injuries
- Pain Reliever
- Cold Remedy
- Bandages/First Aid kit
- Antibiotic ointment
- Water bottle