eldercare education

As You Age, Knowledge Is Power: Educating Yourself on Healthcare and Diagnosis

Educating yourself about your own health and any diagnosis you may receive is imperative these days, when there is so much information available and so many options. There must be some measure of trust between patient and doctor, but doing some research on your own and figuring out what’s right for you doesn’t mean you are undermining your healthcare provider; rather, you are taking the initiative to learn all you can about getting healthy and staying that way.

No two people are the same when it comes to a diagnosis; for instance, some are better equipped to treat a disease or disorder with rigorous exercise, while others may need to take time to let their body heal. Talk to your doctor about what you can do for yourself to speed up the healing process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being informed will help you make the right decisions. Some of the questions you may ask include:

  • Is there treatment available? If so, what type?
  • How can I expect my body to react to treatment?
  • Can I perform everyday functions with this diagnosis?
  • Will medication be involved? What are the side effects?
  • Will this require surgery?
  • What can I do to ensure recovery or to make myself comfortable?

Because there are many different treatment courses depending on a diagnosis, it’s important to become familiar with the ones your doctor recommends and learn all you can about them. Medication, therapy, surgery, or invasive treatment are just a few of the methods, and some of these may be combined. Find out what the side effects are and what sort of changes you can expect to see in your body, emotions, and daily activities; for instance, will it affect your sleeping or eating habits? Your ability to drive a car by yourself? If you will need surgery, how long is recovery time? Write down a list of questions and have them ready for your doctor so you’ll be prepared for a conversation at your next visit.

Many doctors have come to appreciate when a patient researches an illness or diagnosis online, but be careful; not all websites have accurate information.

“Whereas GPs (general practitioners) might have been sceptical in the past, many are increasingly using this as a way of opening up the discussion and engaging patients, which can lead to a more productive consultation for both patient and GP. It is very encouraging to see patients taking an interest in their health and the internet can be a useful means of finding out more about health concerns. It would be wrong to disregard the efforts patients are making to do this, but GPs will also advise caution because there are a lot of dubious sites providing information that is not based on evidence, which can be quite misleading when taken out of context,” says Professor Roger Jones.

Practicing self-care is necessary after any diagnosis. This includes getting enough rest, eating well, exercising every day, managing stress, learning healthy ways to cope with your diagnosis, and finding ways to stay in a positive mind frame.

Photo credit: Pixabay, by Devanath

Caroline James

View posts by Caroline James
Caroline James and her husband, Jim, created ElderAction after becoming caregivers for their aging parents. Caroline enjoys providing valuable information to seniors and their caregivers.

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