Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Health Literacy Month

By Diane Forrest, RN

Earlier this year, around Valentine’s Day, a wonderful young man asked me to take a look at his blog, and maybe even think about writing articles about caregiving and being a caregiver, since I was in that unique position for so long.  It was his goal to teach people about health related subjects, to help them understand several different diseases, causes, treatments and answer any questions they might have.   I offered a few suggestions about different topics I considered important, and before you know it, this site was born.

Today we try to keep you informed on several health matters, safety matters, fun stories and recipes.

With the use of the internet, television shows on health, the White House promoting nutrition’s, there is a lot of information floating around out there, and we really appreciate the time you spend reading the information we share with you.

This is Health Literacy Month.  Founded by Helen Osborne in 1999 and celebrated each October since, Health Literacy Month is a time when individuals and organizations worldwide raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information.   Health literacy includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations.

Sometimes understanding health issues can be very complicated, especially if you are giving information when you are sick, scared, and or confused.  The key to understanding the information you are given is to either write the information down, have someone with you to help listen and explain it, reasearch the information when you are not so overloaded.

Don't hesitate to have your doctor explain things to you in a way you can better understand, or have your pharmacist explain new drugs to you.  Always question anything you doubt.  Just because we get older, does not mean we stop learning.

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