How to Be Your Own Best Health Advocate

Thanksgiving is coming, and we’re already planning how to celebrate–what to cook, where to eat and with whom. But do we give as much consideration to our own health?

Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process and understand basic information about your wellbeing and the services you may need to make appropriate health decisions. Patients who actively participate in their healthcare often get better results. You can boost your health literacy to get the most out of your next doctor’s visit. Here’s how:

Before
• Choose a physician who is compatible with you for a strong foundation to help ensure your good health.
• Collect insurance information, a list of current medications and vitamins/supplements and past and current health history.
• Write a list of questions to bring to your appointment, along with a pen and pad.
• Take a family member or friend with you. It can be helpful when trying to remember details from your visit.

During
• Explain your symptoms, what caused them and what makes them better or worse.
• Answer all questions as completely as possible.
• Ask questions from your list and take notes on the answers. Ask the most important questions first.
• Request instructions in plain, everyday language.
• Ask how to follow up.

After
• Follow your doctor’s directions.
• Call the office if you have any questions when you get home.
• Follow up with any tests requested and don’t forget to call the office for your results.

You are an important member of your healthcare team. Enhancing your health literacy will help you to be a better advocate for your wellness—and enjoy better health outcomes.

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