May 11, 2018

How to get an accurate Blood Pressure reading

Here's my HEALTH LITERACY 101 nugget for the day:  The American Heart Association has this simple guide to getting an accurate blood pressure reading: STEPS TO GETTING AN ACCURATE B.P. READING.

Now that I think of it, the first thing the nurse and I do is start talking about how I've been, why I'm there, any changes in meds, etc. How about I try having quiet, relaxing time while I wait to be seen, then ask that my BP be taken as soon as the nurse or doctor comes in the room? We can start yakking about my health care once we have an accurate BP.

Blood pressure is a vital sign-type important reading. It will determine whether you start a new medication--or don't start one you should have. Let's give it the respect it deserves!

May 10, 2018

Older Americans' Month--proud originators of the Hula Hoop Phenomenon

To be honest, I'm not excited about being a member of a group that calls itself "Older Americans," but so be it. As they have always done, the Baby Boomers are causing a seismic shift in the economy, and this time it's the health care sector.

I call it the Hula Hoop Phenomenon. Isn't it incredible that in just a four-month period, someone was able to get 25 million people to each part with $1.98 ($15.84 in today's dollars) for a plastic tube?  Consider that at the end of the Baby Boom (1964), 40 percent of the U.S. population was 18 and younger (there did seem to be a lot of us around, but yikes.) The vendors of Barbie, the Pet Rock and Gerbers can be equally grateful.

Baby Boomers are a force to be reckoned with, and just wait until we reach full throttle high-maintenance. My dear Boomer friends:  Celebrate still being here and aim to be an engaged and empowered health care consumer going forward--it will be more important than ever before. Be well, be careful, be health literate.  

May 5, 2018

Choosing the right doctor for you

How did your family choose a doctor when we were growing up?  A friend, a referral from a friend, the doctor all your friends went to?  Life was so simple. Now it's about insurance coverage, hospital affiliation, specialty certifications, yada, yada, yada.

I'll also throw in the importance of having a primary care provider who is willing and able to act as your care coordinator if you have a serious diagnosis that requires the involvement of one or more other providers.

I'm proud to be a contributor to this great article in St. George's University Medical School blog on how to go about finding a provider whose skills, availability--and let's face it--style of practicing medicine is a good fit with you:  HOW TO CHOOSE A DOCTOR

April 17, 2018

National Health Care Decisions Week

It's National Health Care Decisions Week, so you'll hear a lot of noise about planning for the last days or weeks of your life. I'm straying from the pack and declaring that informed health care decision making is a lifelong pursuit, not something you bring out just on your way out.

Shared decision making is the key to being an informed and health literate patient, and that applies to preventive, routine, emergency, and--yes, of course--end-of-life care. My op-ed in the Des Moines Register says it all:  Iowa View on Health Care Decision Making.

April 9, 2018

Is chronic disease part of your health care journey?

The Iowa Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association has a great magazine, Live it! I'm proud to say I have an article on health literacy in the spring issue (page 14): 
Iowa Chapter APDA Live it! magazine.

Informed decision making is a long-term, ongoing challenge for the 117 million Americans with chronic medical conditions such as Parkinson's Disease. Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, please take a few minutes to learn how to make your journey more manageable. 

April 4, 2018

The end of the beginning . . .

Today marks the final installment of my 12-part series, Health Literacy 101, in the Des Moines Register. Big thanks to editors Carol Hunter and James Kramer for taking a chance on me and my idea back in January.

My readers have been engaged and loyal. I've made some new friends and forged new partnerships with health literacy advocates of like mind, so look for exciting opportunities to further the goal of health literacy in the coming months! 
See you soon!