Be your own health care advocate

Terri Seargent has advocated for patients’ workplace rights for many decades. Her personal story has impacted medical privacy bills and anti-genetic discrimination laws. Here, she shares tips for self-advocacy.

For those with chronic conditions, it is especially important to take control of your health care and learn to do it efficiently.

plannerYou might think, “I barely have the strength to get dressed every day. And now I’m expected to be my own advocate?”

First, recognize that no one cares more about you than you do—not your children, not your spouse and not your doctor. Taking control of your own health care makes perfect sense. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you do it alone. It means you are the manager of your health care team.

Become knowledgeable

Build your team

Each person brings a unique perspective, experience and education that will benefit you in making the decisions that are best for you. Keep in mind, ultimately you choose who is on your team and all decisions are yours to make.

Available services and aids

As you confer with team members and increase your knowledge, you may find new options to try, such as inhalers, oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation, disability, a walker or genetic counseling.

Discuss anything new you’d like to try with your physician. Some physicians may resist changing a regimen when you haven’t gotten any worse. But it’s impossible for them to know everything about each new technology or medicine released. There’s potential your quality of life could increase, so first:

Doctor appointments

Maintaining records

Thanks to a digitizing world, tracking and accessing records is easier than ever, but some records may still need to be kept in paper form.


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