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6 Tips To Help You Become Your Own Health Advocate
By Jennifer McGregor
Becoming your own health advocate isn’t always easy. It means taking control of your health and actively engaging in your care. If you struggle to talk to your doctor and ask important health-related questions, these tips from Here to There Wellness can help you take control of your health.
1. Learn To Speak Up
One of the most difficult parts of being your own health advocate is learning to speak up in the doctor’s office. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but doctors and nurses are humans. They can make mistakes. You have the right to let them know if you question the care they provide.
2. Don't Be Afraid To Ask for a Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion is never a bad idea, especially when it concerns a serious illness or treatment. If you have questions about the treatment or diagnosis you received, consider asking for a referral to a specialist. A good doctor will graciously accept the opinions of professionals, especially those with more experience in the related field.
3. Keep Up With Your Medical Records
Every time you visit a doctor or hospital, every evaluation and treatment you have is recorded in your medical records. Keeping up with those records is a great way to stay on top of your health. You can use an online tool for free to keep all your medical images in a single file. You just need to upload the images from your phone or computer and merge them. Then you can download the new file and save it to your computer.
4. Vet Your Doctors
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the healthcare providers you see. Not everyone can see any doctor they want. You’re often limited to doctors within your insurance policy network. However, you can still ask questions to find the right available one for you. Research shows that you should always ask about your doctor’s educational background, whether or not they are board certified, and if they have experience working with patients who share your condition.
5. Understand When You Need Help
Being your own health advocate also means knowing your needs. If you have a serious health condition, you can start planning for future care. For example, if you know you may need living assistance, you can start looking into senior living facilities. If your condition requires round-the-clock care, you may want to consider a nursing home. Start vetting places early so you can gather information about costs, payment options, and facility reports.
6. Take Care of Yourself
The simplest way you can take control of your health is to start taking care of yourself. Get exercise every day, even if you work, you can find little ways to move around. For example, you can still go for a walk on your lunch break or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Plan your meals to ensure you have healthy food ready to eat. Avoiding eating out is a great way to take control of your diet.
Being your own health advocate is more than just speaking up at the doctor’s office. It means understanding your body and what you need. It’s about taking care of yourself and not just relying on medical professionals to fix issues when they arise. If you stay aware of what happens to your body, you will see positive changes.