Next Avenue: Many older adults get lost in a maze of doctor’s orders, paperwork and medications. Improving ‘health literacy’ can help.

by | Dec 28, 2022 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from Do you have trouble understanding your doctor’s instructions, finding accurate health information, or working through health insurance forms? If so, you’re not alone.

“Nearly half of adults in the U.S. demonstrate limited health literacy skills,” says Michael Wolf, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Applied Health Research on Aging at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. “Nine out of 10 people may struggle with some aspect of navigating health information and services.”What is health literacy? The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines health literacy as “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Helen Osborne, a health literacy consultant in Natick, Massachusetts, defines health literacy as “a shared responsibility between patients (or anyone receiving health information) and providers (anyone providing health information). Each must communicate in ways the other can understand.” Also on MarketWatch: Want millions more in retirement? This small investment tweak can make a big difference.Why aren’t we health literate? Several things can stand in the way of our lack of health proficiency. First, medical language can be confusing. Filling out forms and recalling your medical history can be difficult. In addition, health and medical information are not always written in plain English and doctors may not speak to patients simply enough.  Physicians may not have time to explain things as well as you’d like. Keeping track of multiple medications may be confusing, as well.Older adults and health literacy Older adults are among the groups with low health literacy. “Adults, particularly those over seventy, have higher rates …

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