It’s not surprising that nearly nine out of 10 adults have trouble understanding the health information they need to choose a healthy lifestyle, or know when to seek medical care and take action to prevent serious illness or disease. From long, strange-sounding conditions to unclear insurance policies, our healthcare system is not easy to navigate for many people.

4 Ways to Better Understand Your Healthcare 600

While professional caregivers are responsible for using clear communication and helping you understand, there are a few steps you can take to educate yourself so you can stay independent and healthy longer.

Visit your doctor every year. A lot of people don’t like going to the doctor out of fear or anxiety, but a yearly visit can give you time to discuss your family health history and any issues that may seem small to you. Preventive care like vaccinations and screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer can save your life. Medicare covers these annual wellness visits so you can improve your health and prevent disease.

Bring a trusted loved one for support. Receiving information about your health can be overwhelming, so bring a family member who can listen and learn. They might be able to take notes while you speak with the doctor so you can remember everything that was said even after your visit.

Don’t nod your head if you don’t understand. There is no shame in not understanding what your doctor tells you – most people don’t. But, it’s your doctor’s responsibility to make sure you know next steps and it’s very important you work with them to get on the same page. Never leave until you are certain you know:

  • What the condition is and how it will affect your health every day
  • What medications you can take to help, and why they are necessary
  • Potential risks you can avoid
  • How often you should follow up with the care team

Try to repeat what you think the doctor has said back to them. Tell your doctor what you think they’ve said, in your own words, so they can get an idea of what you understand and explain areas you didn’t get quite right.

By Blair Klayko