Make a Commitment to Your Health During Health Literacy Month

By Megan Morrow
Published October 4, 2018

For most people, October conjures images of fall, apples, pumpkins and Halloween. October is also Health Literacy Month, a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information and to take action. Founded in 1999, Health Literacy Month focuses on identifying and solving health literacy challenges and cheering on “health literacy heroes” in the community.

What does this mean for you? Following are five ways you can become a greater hero for your own health this month and in the future:

  1. Learn to communicate clearly about your health. Bring a list of organized questions with you whenever you meet with your doctor and write down the answers, clarifying information and instructions from your physician. Do not be afraid to follow up and ask more questions until you have reached an understanding.
  2. Make the necessary appointments. Have you been neglecting an achy tooth? Struggling with hearing when other people are talking? In addition to an annual doctor’s visit, it is also important to care for your teeth, eyes, ears and other specialized needs. If you have been delaying off, this month is a great time to make all of those important appointments.
  3. Establish a health care directive. If you have not already developed this document in concert with your attorney, Health Literacy Month reminds of the importance of clear language in legal documents. A health care directive allows you to share your specific wishes and plans in the event of a health crisis or emergency, and gives your family members a clear path to follow.
  4. Make one small change. Sometimes it is hard to make wholesale health changes – giving up sweets, for example – but, small changes can make a profound difference. If you have not been active recently, add in a 15-minute walk each day. If your diet consists of too much fast or fried food, make a commitment to cook at home three nights a week, incorporating a new vegetable each time. If your mental health is the issue, seek avenues of self-care that help you reduce stress and increase positive feelings.
  5. Find a way to help others. Do you have someone in your family who could use a ride to the doctor’s office? A friend who needs some emotional support? A community organization that is focused on an aspect of health and wellness that could benefit from your time and wisdom? Consider how you can make a difference for others, which will benefit your overall health as well.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans have some challenges understanding health care information, according to the Michigan Bar Association, hence the importance of focusing on health literacy and health-related issues. Taking charge of your health and understanding your personal health history are two powerful actions you can take this month and in the future.

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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor.

The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

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