October is health literacy month. Health literacy is the ability to read, understand, and the ability to do basic math skills to navigate the medical world. Approximately 46 percent of American adults have been deemed health illiterate. They have difficulty comprehending and using health information as it applies to them.
With limited eye sight, hearing, and memory, seniors face an even more difficult time with health literacy than the average adult. As with anyone, misunderstanding health information can be hazardous. Before you even get into the examination room, there is the slew of medical history forms and insurance paperwork to fill out. These can be confusing and riddled with wording that may seem tricky. Once you get in to see the doctor he or she may give you instructions that you forget, or you may not understand their medical jargon. If they prescribe medication, you need to be able to read and understand the dosage and frequency to take it, as well as instructions about how to take it and side affects it may cause. Any missteps along the way can lead to inadequate care. Health illiteracy can impede a patient’s capability to heal from surgery, react to health information alerts, or manage a condition.
There are many ways to improve your health literacy. Ask a family member or friend to accompany you to doctors’ appointments. If you are a client of MAS Home care Rhode Island, Maine, or New Hampshire patients may choose to ask their caregiver to escort them. A second set of ears can make it more likely that you will have all the information you need and they can take notes and jot down diagrams for you to take home. If you are unclear about something your doctor is telling you, don’t be afraid to speak up! Ask specific questions. If you need him/her to slow down or use simpler terms to understand, let him/her know. Repeating information back to them can also help you remember it better.
Health literacy is an important matter for all individuals. Take this month to brush up on your knowledge to keep you and your family healthy.
Contact MAS Home Care today!