October is Health Literacy Month. As a health advocate and writer, health literacy is an important topic to me and I hope it’s important to you, too. Health literacy is the ability to understand and use health information to make decisions about health care. Health literacy is essential because at some point, you will need to be able to find, understand and use health information and services, whether it is for you or a loved one.
If you are confused or frustrated with information that your health care provider gives you, it is OK to stop and tell them that you do not understand. If the directions on your medication are unfamiliar or have conflicting steps, call your provider or pharmacist and ask them to clarify. If you speak a different language than your provider, ask for a translator or for materials in the language you prefer.
As health advocates/educators, there are things we can do to help, too. We can provide people with the information and services they need in the format that is best suited for them. We can work together to help people become more aware of services. And, we can communicate using simple words and sentences to make complex information easy to use and understand.
Follow Jacki Wing at @Jacki_Wing. Click to see how she sneaks healthy choices in her day.