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October is Health Literacy Month!

Health Literacy is important, especially for older people and people with long-term disabilities or ailments.  Health literacy is the ability to understand what you are told about your health and make confident decisions about your health care and treatments based on the information you are given. Health literacy is not something that is widely talked about and many people do not know how to boost their health literacy. 

The number one way to better understand your health is to ask questions.  Remember, the only dumb question is the one that is not asked.  If you do not understand what you are being told, do not hesitate to ask your nurse or doctor to break it down into “layman’s terms”. You have the right to know what is happening in your body and it is their job to help you understand.  Take notes on important information so that you can remember what was said later.  

Another way to boost health literacy is to discuss your medications with your pharmacist.  It is important to know what medications you are taking as well as what they are for.  If you are taking a bunch of different medications, make sure that you ask what each one does.  This can also help you understand your conditions and treatments better.

A final way to make sure that you understand and remember as much as possible about your health is to repeat back to the doctor or nurse what you heard and understood when you were given a diagnosis, instructions, or treatment plan.  This ensures that you are both on the same page and there are no misunderstandings.

The best thing you can do for your health, is to make sure you understand your health.

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