We all know the important role that eating right, exercising, and controlling stress can play in elevating our overall health. But did you know that understanding one’s own health information can play just as big a role as diet and exercise?
October is National Health Literacy Month. Started in 1999 as a way to increase an individual’s understanding of personal healthcare information associated with diagnosis and treatment of illness. Studies consistently show that a significant number of people have problems reading, understanding, and acting on health information about their physical ailments, and health literacy month is aimed at changing that fact.
Health Literacy Month seeks to improve a person’s overall understanding of their diagnosis and the associated services needed to make care decisions. There are two categories of healthcare literacy of which individuals and organizations should be aware.
- Personal health literacy: The degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- Organizational health literacy: The degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
Low health literacy tends to be more prevalent among older adults and children, but also affects minority populations, individuals who have lower socioeconomic status, and medically underserved populations.
At Ardenwoods we recognize the importance of making informed decisions about health and specifically about chronic diseases. We urge residents to speak with their medical professional if there are questions regarding a diagnosis, test results, or treatment plans. People who do not understand their disease or chronic illness sometimes resist treatments or skip medications. As a result, their condition exacerbates, treatments may be less effective, and outcomes worsen.
We urge individuals to “know their numbers”, particularly those numbers dealing with one’s blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), cholesterol, and blood glucose. These numbers can have a significant impact on overall health of individuals and can help with the early detection of other chronic diseases.
Ardenwoods strives to help our residents stay healthy and active. We have a staff Wellness Director and offer a monthly Health Talk program aimed at providing our residents with information on leading more healthy lives through fitness classes, providing nutritional information, and seminars to discuss what makes life meaningful.