Advocating for your Own Health

As mature adults, we know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting a yearly physical can
help us avoid a wide range of physical issues. But when we need care, how do we advocate for
our own health? Here are four steps that should be taken right now to help navigate the

Keeping Your Records Organized

Don’t wait for an emergency or a catastrophic event to start keeping your health records
organized. Whether you need to remember the results of your last physical or your loved ones
need to have access to vital information on your behalf, keep your medical records in a safe
place and clearly labeled, with all your practitioners’ contact information and specialties listed.
Keep records of your family health history, your personal health history, and a list of the
medications you’re taking, including their dosages, and put them in their own folder, easily
accessible in your filing cabinet. And in case the unthinkable happens, make sure you include a
copy of your power of attorney or a living will with your medical and health records.    

Finding the Right Doctors

If you need to find a new primary care physician, look for a doctor that has experience in
treating older patients
. Ask for recommendations from friends, colleagues, and family members.
You can also peruse online reviews before you decide on the best one for your needs. But if
you’re on Medicare, be aware that not all doctors participate in the program. Additionally,
depending on your health insurance plan, you may need to find an in-network provider in order
to be eligible for coverage. When you need to see a specialist, ask your general practitioner or
pharmacist for referrals, and if you can, reach out to former patients to ask them about their
experience. You can also find online community boards and discussion groups where current
and former patients as well as caregivers share their reviews and opinions.    

Considering Your Living Options

If you have health issues that require skilled nursing care, consider moving into a nursing home
where you’ll be able to receive help and treatment around the clock. Inquire about the skilled
nursing facilities in your area
and compare costs and amenities. Find a nursing home that offers
activities you enjoy, as well as healthy meals. Before committing to one place, plan on visiting
the facility at different times and different days of the week to get a better feel for the staff and
the way they interact with residents. Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible
for government programs
and won’t have to pay for everything out of pocket. But make sure to
have all your questions answered before signing a contract.  

Leading a Healthier Lifestyle

Even if you’re too busy with work to take classes at the gym or exercise regularly, you can make
changes in your daily habits that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. For example, think about taking
the stairs instead of the elevator
when you’re at the office; walk or bike to your neighborhood
stores instead of using your car; take your dog on a brisk walk around the block or to a nearby
park after dinner; and make sure to take mental breaks, stepping away from your desk for a few
minutes during the workday. Use this time to meditate, listen to a favorite podcast, indulge in a
cup of green tea, or pick up the phone and check on a friend or loved one.  

As we get older, staying healthy becomes even more of a priority. So make sure to find doctors
you trust for health needs, and keep your medical records organized. If you need round-the-
clock care, consider a nursing facility. And work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle so you can
enjoy many more years with your loved ones!  

By:  Andrea Needham

Are you an older adult looking for meaningful community participation? Download our app at and start engaging, learning, and connecting with those you care about.  

September 29, 2022


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