By: June Duncan
There was a time when your family physician managed almost everything about your health, from tests to medication. You could afford to be passive and just follow orders, as it were, and know you’d be taken care of.
Times have changed, though. The US healthcare system is understaffed and underfunded, and primary care doctors have become hard to come by, as the NCBI can confirm. It’s normal for you to have to move from specialist to specialist for treatments without a primary care physician to act as an intermediary. These specialists are often hard-pressed for time, don’t always know your full medical history, and won’t always hear you out as well as they should.
Consequently, you’re now required to take on a more active role when it comes to looking after your health. You have to speak up more, know your medical history, and generally advocate for your own well-being. Here, Cholla Medical Group Inc. gives you suggestions on how to better manage your health through self-advocacy:
Maintain your medical records
Keeping track of your medical records can help you in several ways. If a new physician doesn’t have access to your full medical history, you can share it with them. Also, it gives you quick access to important medical information and helps you better understand your own needs. You can follow along with a diagnosis and ask relevant questions. Organizing medical records is simple if you use an online tool. You’ll be able to keep all your X-rays, medical images, and other reports in one file. Simply upload images from your device, merge them, and download the combined file again.
Ask questions and be assertive
You should aim to ask questions during doctor visits. If something seems confusing, don’t hesitate to clarify things. If you believe a recommendation doesn’t make sense, politely ask for an explanation. Sometimes, you have to be assertive to be taken seriously. That means if you don’t believe you’re being given adequate treatment for the issue at hand, insist on receiving it. Remember – second opinions are always an option.
Know how your health insurance works
Knowing how your health insurance works is essential to avoid bad deals, needless fees, and penalties, according to Consumer Reports. You should look for plans that include your preferred physicians, offer reasonable health benefits, and don’t have a steep monthly premium. Some plans offer preventative services at no cost, as does The Affordable Care Act. Keep yourself informed of your various healthcare options and the costs involved to pick out the best one.
Create a self-care plan and follow a healthy lifestyle
Being a proponent of your own health is more than speaking up at your next doctor’s appointment – it’s also doing what you need to in order to meet your physical, mental, and emotional needs. For instance, creating a self-care plan with healthful activities like walking, chair yoga, and swimming can assist you in staying healthy. Pair it up with a nutritious diet for the best results. If you work a lot or otherwise don’t have time for physical exercise, you can still get some in by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and going for a walk during your lunch break. Brookdale offers some self-care suggestions.
Get care at home
You don’t always have to seek out medical care in person – you can have it come to you. One option is trying telehealth, which is visiting a doctor online. If you live in a retirement community or group home, you could also opt for Cholla Medical Group’s mobile primary care medical services. We offer regular visits that cover diagnosis, treatment, and regular care.
Consider senior living facilities
Being your own advocate involves being honest about your own needs. If you have serious health issues and require skilled nursing or round-the-clock assistance, for instance, you shouldn’t hesitate to check yourself into a nursing home. Before choosing one, read reviews for facilities nearby. Research costs, payment options, and detailed facility reports before committing to something.
It’s important to understand that while your doctor is an expert, no one knows your body and health better than you do. With self-advocacy, you can team up with your doctor to achieve better results by clearly communicating your experiences and thoughts and becoming an active participant in ensuring your wellbeing.
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