Celebrate Health Literacy Month in October

Celebrate Health Literacy Month in October. Three out of four Americans don’t take their medication as prescribed, and non-adherence costs the country more than $290 billion a year. Photo courtesy stock.xchng.com

Health can be confusing. Listening to medical jargon while battling an illness might make that headache feel a lot worse.

However, it’s important that you learn about your health care to live a healthier life.

October marks Health Literacy Month. Three out of four Americans don’t take their medication as prescribed, and non-adherence costs the country more than $290 billion a year, according to the National Consumers League.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) – South Central PA encourages you to celebrate by taking a proactive approach to your care, building an understanding of medications and strengthening communication with their providers.

Robin Rohrbaugh, executive director of the Healthy York County Coalition, said patients often try to take their medications as prescribed by physicians, but a slight misunderstanding about timing or frequency of intake can have major effects on health.

“By teaching patients better health literacy skills and equipping them with the tools to understand their care, we can positively impact individual patients and the overall health care system,” she said.

AF4Q provided these tips to improve health literacy and help you take charge of your care.

1. Prepare for doctors’ appointments in the same way that you would for other major purchases. Identify your needs and, if possible, research your condition and care options. Consider if the prescribed medications seem to be working or if improvements aren’t being realized.

2. Take all medications to the appointment including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements. This allows your physician to diagnose drug interactions and ensure you are taking the prescribed amounts at the correct times.

3. Bring someone else with you to the appointment who can help listen and clarify any instructions. If you must go alone, take notes to ensure you’re capturing all of the physician’s directions.

4. Ask questions and repeat back doctors’ instructions to ensure understanding. Beyond taking notes, be sure to ask for clarification about any confusing diagnoses or treatment plans. Physicians often recommend the teach back method, which encourages patients to repeat back in their own words what their doctors say to ensure understanding.

5. Use one pharmacist instead of many as he/she will be able to track all prescribed medications and check for potential complications. Pharmacists can also be a great resource for additional questions.

Leigh Zaleski

I'm a health features reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News and healthy living blogger for No Sweat, York. Contact me with story ideas at lzaleski@ydr.com, 717-771-2101 or @leighzaleski on Twitter.

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7 Responses

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