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Being a well-informed healthcare user | Touro

World Health Day is observed each year on April 7. The theme for this year is building a fairer, healthier world for everyone. Touro Family Medicine Physician Dr. Meredith Maxwell shares some simple ways to boost your overall health in more ways than one.

What changes can you make to boost your overall health?

  1. Healthy diet- A well-balanced diet is one of the essential steps towards a healthy life. Eat at least three healthy and nutritious meals a day and do remember that dinner does not have to be the largest meal. Your majority of food consumption should consist of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein rich foods, healthy fats and much more.
  2. Sleep soundly - Sleep plays an important role in your overall wellbeing and studies show that sleep deprivation is related to many diseases, including obesity and heart disease. A good, quality sleep is highly recommended for people of all ages as it improves your health in more ways than you can imagine. You wake up feeling better both physically and mentally which in turn lowers your risk of various health problems down the line.
  3. Exercise - Exercise is a great way to keep you healthy and active. Studies have further proved the benefits of regular exercise - up to three times a week can help improve longevity and overall health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise each week or an hour at least three times a week.
  4. Become well-informed in your healthcare plans and treatments

How can you be a well-informed healthcare user?

Taking the time to become a well-informed healthcare user is a matter of self-protection. The benefits of being an active healthcare user include better health, more effective healthcare, and lower health costs. It takes time and patience, but the peace of mind is worth it.

Work better with your healthcare provider

Your healthcare provider is your main advocate within the healthcare system. You should:

  • Find out how to use services. Can you ask your healthcare provider questions over the phone, or must you make an appointment? Can you get a prescription over the phone?
  • Prepare for an office visit. Be sure your healthcare provider has all the information needed to make a diagnosis. This includes your medical records, family medical history, and a list of the medicines you take. Bring along a list of questions and issues you want to talk about.
  • Educate yourself. Becoming an informed healthcare user can help make sure you get safe, quality care. To do so, learn more about any conditions and treatments you get by asking your healthcare provider for information for patients. Search reputable Internet sites such as major hospitals or healthcare organizations or government sites. Talk with your healthcare provider about what you find.
  • Follow through. When you commit to a treatment plan, take medications as prescribed. Make sure you follow all disease-management and prevention steps.

Make the most of appointments

An office visit is also an opportunity. Make the most of it by:

  • Starting with open communication. Don’t assume your healthcare provider has all the information he or she needs. If you think of a detail you forgot to bring up during an appointment, jot it down. Then, call your healthcare provider or nurse.
  • Asking questions. Be sure to get a clear explanation of your care and ask about treatment, results, and any possible side effects. Write down what your need to know about treatment. Don’t trust your memory. And remember, it’s your right to get a second opinion if you want one.
  • Sharing any history of allergies or reactions. Your provider needs to know how you’ve reacted to medicines or treatments. This will help be sure you don’t get a medication that may harm you.
  • Ask your healthcare provider to write clearly. He or she should clearly write the name and purpose of the prescribed medicine, as well as for instructions for taking it. Then check to make sure the pharmacist gives you the right one.

Keep on top of preventive care

Certain health screenings, such as those for the prostate, breast, bones, and colon, are advised for older adults. If your provider doesn’t mention them, ask if you should be screened during your annual visit or in the next couple of years. Talk with your healthcare provider about:

  • Screenings for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other problems
  • Immunizations for illnesses
  • Counseling for mental health concerns
  • Your diet and activity levels
  • Your weight
  • Stress management
  • Smoking or substance abuse
  • Steps you can take to prevent chronic disease

It’s up to you to follow your healthcare provider’s suggestions. Keep asking questions until you know what you need to do. Being assertive and acting as your own healthcare advocate is the best way to get the best healthcare.

If you or someone you know needs a primary care provider, you can visit touro.com/findadoc or call 504.897.7777