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Health Literacy Month: How to Advocate for Your Health Care

Health Literacy Month: How to Advocate for Your Health Care

Health Literacy Month is a time to understand the importance of good information about your health options. The healthcare system is complex and difficult for patients to navigate. Many patients aren't aware of their rights and their ability to legally ensure that they'll be taken care of properly, according to their wishes. Involvement in your own care is vital to good health, so read on below to learn how you can advocate for your own care!

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1. Speak Up and Ask Questions

This is the most important thing you can do as a patient. Ask questions about your treatment plan and symptoms; prepare them beforehand so you know the right questions to ask your doctor. Get a second opinion and beyond if necessary. If you're staying in the hospital or getting surgery, ask questions about how they prevent the spread of infections.

2. Involve Your Loved Ones

If your loved ones are clear on your treatment plan, medications, and symptoms. Keep a list of all your medications and dosages, and give them to anyone you live with and anyone who may pick up prescriptions for you. Fully inform your loved ones of any conditions you have and their symptoms, so that they will recognize if your condition worsens.

3. Get All Necessary Vaccinations

This is always important, but make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations. This is especially important if you're going to be at a medical facility for any reason. By taking steps to prevent the spread of even regular yearly viruses, you're protecting both medical workers and patients, and of course protecting yourself. Even your yearly flu shot, which many people disregard, is a great way to keep yourself safe from a potentially dangerous sickness.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

4. Practice Good Hygiene and Think of Other Patients

If you're going to a medical appointment or staying in a hospital, one of the most important things you can do for health is wash your hands thoroughly and often, and if you're staying in the hospital make sure any visitors do too. It's the most effective way to prevent spreading germs. This helps protect yourself, and others too. And when we all watch out for each other's safety, health outcomes for everyone improve.

If you are sick or have been sick recently, wear a face mask - they're most useful helping sick patients prevent spreading germs. Take antibiotics only when you need them, exactly as prescribed, and always complete your full course. Watch for signs of infection and get help immediately if you suspect you have one. While staying in the hospital, make sure your room is being cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Choose Medical Proxy

5. Choose a Medical Proxy

You might not always be able to make decisions regarding your own medical care. To prepare for this possibility, it makes sense to choose a medical decision maker, or proxy. If you are unable to make decisions, this person can choose:

  • Your doctors, nurses, social workers, and caregivers.
  • Your hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
  • Who has access to your medical information.
  • Your medications, tests, and treatments, including life support and resuscitation orders.
  • End of life decisions such as autopsy, organ donation, the presence of religious leaders, and funeral arrangements.

How Do I Choose a Medical Proxy?

The most important factor in choosing a medical decision maker is how much trust you have in this person to respect your wishes and carry them out. Legally, it cannot be your doctor or anyone who works at your hospital or clinic. You should look for a friend or family member who:

  • Is 18 years of age or older.
  • You trust to know your medical information.
  • Can understand and talk to you about your medical needs and wishes.
  • Is available to assist in your care and can be there for you when you need them.
  • Is willing to ask questions of medical professionals and speak up regarding your needs.

Long-term medical care is difficult in an ideal situation, so it bears repeating: choose a medical proxy you trust, and make sure you establish them as your legal medical proxy. Every state has different forms that you can use to do so, and the PREPARE program from Prepare for Your Care has them available at their website.

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6. Visit Mountainside Medical Equipment for Wholesale Medical Supplies at the Best Prices

Part of health care literacy is knowing how to afford it. Health care is expensive, especially if you're on a fixed income, and it knowing where to buy quality products at affordable prices can make a major difference for your budget. That's why you should visit Mountainside Medical Equipment! On both our website and at our storefront, we offer wholesale medical supplies on a cash & carry basis. Get top brands for the highest quality assistive and mobility devices at the lowest prices right here!

Mountainside Medical Equipment’s storefront is located at 9266 Old River Road, Marcy, New York 13403. It’s open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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