In today’s world, healthcare systems are often complex, and medical information can feel overwhelming. In order to empower yourself, it’s important to learn how to take an active role in your own health. Being your own health advocate means actively participating in decisions about your well-being, having an understanding of your body, and learning to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals. Here are some tips to learning to advocate for yourself and for your health:
Listen to & trust your body: The first step to being your own health advocate is to listen to your own body. Listening to your body means paying attention to changes, symptoms, and overall well-being. Regular check-ups and screenings can help you become more aware of your health status. Check out http://www.chaffeecounty.org/Public-Health-CO-Heart-Health for information on free programs to check the status of your A1C (blood sugar readings for Diabetes prevention), and cholesterol.
Knowing your family medical history is also essential, as it can provide valuable insights for both you and your healthcare provider. It can be helpful to keep an electronic record of your family history, as it may be something you need multiple times. This way, you can keep it updated and easily accessible.
Seek out reputable information: In the age of technology, access to medical knowledge is at our fingertips. This can be empowering, although it does not replace trained medical professional assessments and recommendations. Empower yourself by staying informed about your health conditions, medications, vaccination status, and treatment options, however rely on reputable sources such as medical journals, government health agencies, and trusted healthcare providers. Call 719-539-4510 to schedule an appointment for vaccines, or ask to speak to a nurse to discuss what you are due for. Educating yourself enables you to ask informed questions and actively participate in discussions about your healthcare. Before any appointment, write your questions down, including your most prioritized goals. Consider taking notes during your appointment, as it can be overwhelming to digest all that is relayed to you, particularly if it is a stressful appointment. Another helpful strategy can be to bring someone with you to serve as a source of support, to help you remember the details of your appointment, and to even take notes for you so that you can stay engaged.
Become familiar with your insurance plan: If you have health insurance, take some time to learn about your plan. Health insurance plans can feel overwhelming, but usually there are representatives you can call to help explain what is covered and what is not. Public Health offers insurance enrollment navigation and can help navigate Connect for Health Colorado. Visit http://www.chaffeecounty.org/Public-Health-Connect-for-Health-Colorado
Another thing to keep in mind is that providers who do not take insurance (such as many private counselors) can still provide forms you can submit for reimbursement to your insurance company. Knowing your deductible costs can also help you make a financial plan for non-emergent procedures, or other life decisions (such as pregnancy).
Create a healthy relationship with your healthcare professionals: Establishing open and effective communication with your healthcare team is fundamental to being your own health advocate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek clarification, and express your concerns. Make sure to provide accurate and detailed information about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. This collaboration ensures that you and your healthcare provider are on the same page, working together to make informed decisions about your health.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion: In complex medical situations, seeking a second opinion can be invaluable. It’s not a lack of trust in your primary healthcare provider, but rather a proactive approach to ensure that you explore all available options and make the best decisions for your health. Many healthcare professionals welcome second opinions, viewing them as a part of the collaborative process.
Find empowerment in prevention: Prevention is a key aspect of healthcare, and being your own health advocate involves actively pursuing preventive measures. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, attend regular screenings, and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Prevention not only reduces the risk of developing certain conditions but also allows for early detection and intervention when necessary.
Being your own health advocate is a powerful and proactive approach to well-being. It involves understanding your body, staying informed, communicating effectively with healthcare professionals, seeking second opinions when needed, advocating for preventive care, and navigating the healthcare system with confidence. By taking an active role in your health, you not only empower yourself but also contribute to a collaborative and informed healthcare journey. Remember, your health is your most valuable asset, and being your own advocate is a step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.