How To Be Your Healthcare Advocate

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Blog

How To Be Your Health Advocate: A Complete Guide for Women

Contributing Author – Patricia Sarmiento

Being healthy isn’t just about healing yourself when you’re sick. It’s about taking all the necessary precautions to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place. In other words, it’s about being your health advocate!

As a woman, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and maintain your physical and mental well-being. Dr. Barbara Collins shows you how to become an effective self-advocate!

Make practical changes to your lifestyle.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.“ Changing your lifestyle is the best way to prevent illness and maintain good health. Exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and take time to de-stress. These changes can help you stay healthy and avoid various medical problems.

Get more movement.

If you’re as busy as most adults, you don’t have much extra time to go to the gym, meal prep, or maintain other wellness habits that require hours.

The good news is that you can incorporate small actions into your daily routine that benefit your well-being, such as walking more and eating more veggies at lunch. Use a walk score map to find the best places to walk near your home and office. Getting outside and getting extra exercise can greatly impact your physical and mental health.

Mind your caffeine intake to stay hydrated.

While coffee can provide a much-needed energy boost, monitoring your intake is important to maintain optimal hydration. Coffee contains caffeine, which has diuretic properties, meaning it can increase urine production and potentially lead to dehydration if consumed in large quantities.

Balancing your coffee consumption with plenty of water can help prevent this. It’s also worth noting that the effects of caffeine can vary from person to person, so listen to your body and adjust your intake accordingly. If you notice symptoms such as dry mouth, headache, or feeling lightheaded, it might be an indication that you need to increase your water intake or cut back on caffeine. Remember, staying hydrated is key to maintaining overall health and well-being.

Find an honest doctor.

Your relationship with your doctor is one of the most important ones you’ll have. That’s why it’s crucial to find a doctor who is honest, knowledgeable, and willing to listen to your concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, share your medical history, and voice any worries about your health.

Remember — a good doctor will take the time to explain everything to you and work with you to create a plan that fits your needs. They also won’t be afraid to share their concerns with you.

For example, many doctors bury their heads in the sand when it comes to obesity. If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, you need a medical professional who will explain the risks and help you develop a strategy to get healthy!

Learn how health insurance works.

Purchasing and understanding your health insurance coverage is key to being your health advocate. Educate yourself on the terms and conditions of your policy and the co-pays, deductibles, and other associated costs. Researching what your insurance covers can help you make informed decisions and avoid unexpected — exorbitant — bills.

Create an organizational system for medical records.

Keeping track of your medical records can be overwhelming, but it’s non-negotiable if you want to prevent delays and ensure you receive the best possible care. Create an organizational system for your records that works for you — whether a physical binder or a digital system. Keep all your records in one place — the best option is to convert them to PDFs — and update them regularly.

Carefully review your medical bills.

Healthcare bills can be confusing and daunting, but if you want to be a health self-advocate, you must be vigilant about reviewing them. Be sure to review every bill and explanation of benefits you receive from your insurance company. Look for discrepancies or errors, and don’t hesitate to question your doctor or insurance provider about any charges you don’t understand.

Bring a trusty friend to appointments.

Let’s be honest: going to appointments alone can be intimidating, especially when dealing with a serious medical issue. Having a trusted friend or family member with you can make all the difference. Bring someone with you to take notes, ask questions, and give you emotional support. It can entirely change how you feel about your care!

Being your health advocate means taking control of your health and making informed decisions about the care you seek (and receive). You can help ensure you get the best possible care by changing your lifestyle, finding the right doctor, staying organized, and following the other tips above. Don’t wait — start advocating for your health today!

For women seeking help navigating life after 50, contact Dr. Barbara Collins

Special Thank You to Contributing Author – Patricia Sarmiento

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