By April Meyers
Getting the attention you need for a medical problem can be challenging, especially if your local system is overburdened. To get the care you deserve, you must become your own advocate. The following are ways to take more control of your health.
Create a healthy home environment
A neat and clean home can do wonders for your health. For example, having lots of natural light, greenery and reduced clutter can improve your mental health. “This Old House” lists other changes can improve air quality and make your home a more relaxing space:
- Clean your HVAC system
- Wipe down doorknobs with a disinfectant
- Get dust covers for pillows
- Buy an air purifier
- Wash your sheets weekly
According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, approximately 50% of Americans use supplements. If you struggle to get enough nutrients in your diet, adding supplements may be a good idea. The following are vitamins that may benefit you:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Organize your medical records
Knowing your medical history helps physicians diagnose conditions and find treatments that work. You should organize your medical records in a way that makes the most sense to you, so you can find what you need without much effort. For example, you can store medical images such as x-rays with online tools if you prefer digital records.
Use PDFs to submit forms in advance
It’s a good idea to submit any forms your healthcare providers suggest in a timely manner. This way, you’ll be able to get in for appointments as quickly as possible, obtain copies of your records, and forward your records to any healthcare specialists you work with. Instead of using many files, you can easily keep everything in one file by adding pages to PDFs using an online tool. And if you want to add page content to your PDFs, this tool will also allow you to reorder, delete, and rotate pages.
Create a sustainable fitness routine
Physical activity combats obesity, releases endorphins, and improves cardiovascular fitness. Of course, getting the recommended amount of exercise can be difficult. Fortunately, you can create a sustainable fitness routine:
- Put it in your schedule
- Exercise in 10-minute bursts
- Do something you enjoy
- Find a workout buddy
Ask questions of your health care provider
Don’t just take your physician’s word for it, ask questions to better understand your treatment. If you struggle to ask questions in the moment, create a list of potential concerns before your appointment:
- Will the new prescription interact with your current medication?
- How accurate are the diagnostic tests?
- What are the new prescription’s possible side effects?
- What is the source of your symptoms?
- Do the treatments address the root cause or only the symptoms?
Bring support when you visit your doctor
Having someone with you in the doctor’s office may be a good idea if you’re struggling with an illness. A companion can advocate for you when you’re too tired or in pain to advocate for yourself. They can also take notes, fill in gaps if you forget to mention symptoms, and ask questions you may be too preoccupied to think of.
In most cases, a trusted friend or loved one can fill this role. However, a professional patient advocate may be necessary if you’re dealing with a serious illness or your loved ones aren’t equipped to support you.
Find the right physician
The first doctor you see may not be the right fit for you, and it’s within your rights to seek a second opinion or find a new primary care physician. If you experience any of the following in the doctor’s office, you should consider finding another healthcare professional:
- Your doctor won’t consider newer treatments
- You don’t feel heard
- Your doctor isn’t compassionate
- You have difficulty getting an appointment
Advocating for your health takes time and energy, but doing so means getting answers and solutions. You deserve the best care, and pushing for effective treatment ensures you will get it.
(April Meyers of Wheaton, IL is a huge advocate of embracing the mind-body connection. She created Mind Body Health Solution to support people far and wide in their wellness journey.)