Do You Think Your Doctors Are Caring?

A checklist that you could use to rate your doctors.

A few months ago, we featured a YouTube video on doctors and compassion. In that video, it was reported that a doctor could show compassion in less than a minute.

Today, we ask: Do you think your doctors are caring?

As part of a research project, Mark E. Quirk, et al., devised the following checklist. How would EACH of your doctors score on the checklist? If a doctor’s score is low, why don’t you switch to another physician?

Do You Think Your Doctor Is Caring?
 

Regularly Get Your Heart Tested

Treat your heart well.

According to the CDC:

    • “About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year –that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
    • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
    • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually.
    • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.”

Here is an excellent video that encourages you to do proper testing. 🙂


 

Knowing Yourself Is Helpful

Insights on chronic illnesses.

We have regularly written about the value of health care knowledge. For example, see: Insights on Health LiteracyHealth Rankings in America Cancer Health.

Today, let’s look at the observations of a Crohn’s disease survivor. As Tessa Miller writes for the NY Times:

“Finding out you have a chronic illness — one that will, by definition, never go away — changes things, both for you and those you love. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know how much my life would change. There’s no conversation about that foggy space between the common cold and terminal cancer, where illness won’t go away but won’t kill you, so none of us know what ‘chronic illness’ means until we’re thrown into being sick forever.”

“Chronic illness patients not only face painful physical symptoms, but also mental ones that linger even when the disease is well controlled. A therapist should be considered a crucial part of your care team, just as important as a gastroenterologist or cardiologist.”

“Your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore, and a future version that looks different than you’d planned. You might have to give up career goals, hobbies and family plans, learning a ‘new normal’ in their place.”

“Chronically ill people research their diseases ad nauseam. They try more treatments than they can count. In many cases, great scientific minds can’t crack a cause or cure. So unless someone asks for your advice, don’t offer it.”

“There’s a sense of shame that comes with chronic illness that pressures patients into secrecy, making them feel like they can’t discuss their disease outside of the doctor’s office. Secrecy bolsters the lack of public conversation and knowledge, which feeds the shame patients feel.”

“Living with chronic illness makes every day a little harder, but it also makes every day a little sweeter. Though I don’t know what my future holds, I’m overwhelmed with a gratitude I didn’t have before my diagnosis — some days I marvel at just being alive.”

Click the image to read more.

Credit: Mark Pernice

 

Be Careful with OTC Drugs

OTC drugs are not risk-free!

For many people, there is a misconception that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are always safer than prescription drugs. And that simply is not true.

Consider these observations from AARP:

“If the good news is that over-the-counter pain killers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen won’t put you at risk for addiction issues like prescription opioids or narcotics can, the less good news is that no pain pill comes without the potential for problems, says Nitin Sekhri, medical director of pain management at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.”

“Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is considered the safest option by many, and yet, Sekhri notes, it’s still to blame for about 50 percent of acute liver failures in the U.S. Acetaminophen also is the leading reason behind calls to poison control and to blame for more than 50,000 emergency room visits a year.”

“Often problems arise from people not realizing they’ve taken as much acetaminophen as they have. The over-the-counter painkiller isn’t just in Tylenol: It shows up in remedies meant to fight allergies, colds, flu, coughs, and sleeplessness. It’s also an ingredient in prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet.”

Click the image to read a lot more.

Be Careful with OTC Drugs

 

Insights on Health Literacy

It’s essential to become more health literate.

In the United States, how much do people know and understand about various health issues? For many, the answer is unfortunately not much.

Consider a few of the highlights from the report “America’s Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information.” Click the image to access the full report.

Insights on Health Literacy

In general:

“Health literacy — the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions — is essential to promote healthy people and communities. Health care institutions and public health systems play a critical role in health literacy, because they can make it easier or more difficult for people to find and use health information and services. For the first time, there are national data that demonstrate currently available health information is too difficult for average Americans to use to make health decisions.”

“Limited health literacy isn’t a disease that makes itself easily visible. In fact, you can’t tell by looking. Health literacy depends on the context. Even people with strong literacy skills can face health literacy challenges, such as when: They are not familiar with medical terms or how their bodies work. People have to interpret numbers or risks to make a health care decision. They are diagnosed with a serious illness and are scared or confused. They have complex conditions that require complicated self-care.”

Key findings and policy implications of the first-ever National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) findings include:

Only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy“Over a third of U.S. adults — 77 million people — have difficulty with common health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription drug label or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart.”

“Limited health literacy affects adults in all racial and ethnic groups. The proportion of adults with basic or below basic health literacy ranges from 28 percent of white adults to 65 percent of Hispanic adults.”

“Although half of adults without a high school education had below basic health literacy skills, even high school and college graduates can have limited health literacy.

Compared to privately insured adults, both publicly insured and uninsured adults had lower health literacy skills.”

All adults, regardless of their health literacy skills, were more likely to get health information from radio/television, friends/family, and health professionals than from print media.”

Best States for Retirement

Would you believe Alaska is ranked first?

Last month, we pointed out the best community in each state in which to retire. Today, we look at how the states themselves rank as places for retirees to live.

According to Michael B. Sauter, reporting for 24/7 Wall St.:  

“As the baby boomer generation continues to age, millions of Americans are due for retirement. Every day, about 10,000 U.S. residents turn 65. However, a record number of people 65 and older remain in the workforce because of financial insecurity. The number of seniors who continue to work has more than doubled since 2000.”

“Many seniors do not have the luxury of choosing where to spend their retirement. This could be because they depend on younger family members or because relocating costs too much. Those who choose to exit the workforce and rely on their savings, pensions, and social security face different financial burdens depending on the state where they spend their golden years.”

In one state, a retired couple can live comfortably on $36,000 a year. In another state, the same standard of living costs as much as $56,000. A person who retires at 65 and lives 20 more years could need an extra half a million dollars for living expenses depending on which state they are in.”

“To determine what it costs to retire in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual expenses at the state level. We then reviewed data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator for a couple 65 or older with no dependents, which measures the income a family needs in order to attain a modest standard of living at the metropolitan level. Using differences in budgetary needs between the average American and residents 65 and over, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the average annual retirement costs by state.”

Click here to access the ranking of all 50 states, starting with number 50.

Below is the 24/7 Wall St. analysis of New York.

Best States for Retirement
Source: Tomas Sereda / Getty Images

3. New York
> Estimated annual retirement costs: $50,321
> Avg. annual earnings for 65+ households: $29,018 (13th highest)
> Avg. annual homeownership costs for seniors: $21,648 (4th highest)
> Pct. residents 65+: 15.9% (25th lowest)

 

Please Be Careful in the Cold

Here are two weather-related infographics.

The current cold wave can have a dramatic effect on our health. PLEASE be smart. And best wishes to those dealing with sub-zero temperatures today.

In this post, we present two infographics: one for handling the current cold wave and the other for being prepared for a future cold weather event.

From BabaMail: “As the cold weather begins to set in, our bodies must prepare themselves for the harsh winter ahead. Here are a few of the reasons that we are more prone to illness during the colder months, and tips on how to protect our bodies in lieu of these changes. Read on to find out how to keep your immune system strong against the winter chill.”

Please Be Careful in the Cold

From VNA Health Group: “Every year, winter weather takes its toll on our homes, puts people’s lives at risk, and causes delays in travel. Getting ready for winter will ensure that you’re one step ahead of Old Man Winter’s fury. Prepare yourself and your loved ones by sharing these winter safety tips with your friends and family.”

Please Be Careful in the Cold