No one has more control over your health than you do. When you make your health a priority, you feel a greater sense of control and are more comfortable making healthcare decisions. Here are a few tips on how you can stay well by taking action to own your own health.
Work as a team with your primary care provider.
Unlike specialists, who focus on treating specific diseases, your primary care physician works to keep the whole you healthy over your entire life. You know your body and your needs, concerns and healthcare wishes. Your doctor has medical expertise. Together, as a team, you can focus on staying healthy and preventing disease.
Be an educated healthcare consumer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a health problem, learn as much as you are able about your condition and the treatment options before you make any important decisions. Consider participating in disease-specific support groups or online forums where you can learn from others who have similar concerns and challenges.
Time with your doctor is limited so make the best of it. Prepare a list of questions before each appointment. There is no such thing as a stupid question. If you don’t understand something, keep asking until you do understand. It helps to ask open-ended questions. Instead of, “Do I need this treatment?” ask, “If I decide not to accept this treatment, what will happen to me?” or, “Are there other treatments, and if so, can you tell me about them?”
Keep up with appropriate wellness visits and preventive measures.
Ask your doctor which screenings and immunizations are right for you based on your age and risk factors.
Did you know that seven out of 10 deaths are due to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes? These conditions are largely preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Eat right, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and don’t smoke. These are proven strategies for reducing your risk of disease. Your healthcare provider can help you develop and implement a Get Healthy plan.
Seek a second opinion when appropriate.
One out of 20 Americans is a victim of outpatient diagnostic errors, according to the Association for Healthcare and Research Quality. Don’t be afraid to seek another opinion before undergoing surgery or beginning treatment for a serious medical problem.
Being a good advocate for yourself is important when you are facing a serious illness, but don’t wait until you are sick to advocate for yourself. Your everyday decisions affect your long-term health, so start looking out for your future health now. Start by visiting your doctor to discuss your health goals.