Balancing life responsibilities and overall health can be challenging, especially when you have a disability diagnosis. Here are a few tips to help you be your own best advocate when working with healthcare providers.
Do Your Homework Before Your Appointment
Preparing in advance for your healthcare-related appointment is key to leaving it with a sense of accomplishment. Before the appointment, think about what you want to happen while you’re there. Ask yourself:
Bring a Friend
Bring a friend with you to help you keep track of information and tell healthcare providers what you need. Make sure your friend is one who will be able to express your wishes at all times. If you are going to be staying in a hospital for an extended period of time, ask several friends to take turns being with you while you are there.
Talk with Your Healthcare Team
Tell your healthcare team who you are and what matters to you, from your health history to your personal life goals. Giving your healthcare team a sense of who you are will help them give you the best care possible.
Be sure you understand what’s being talked about and every step in the plan to meet your healthcare goals. If a procedure is suggested, ask your healthcare provider to talk you through every event that would take place that day. What are possible complications? What would be the first sign that something isn’t right? There’s no need for surprises – ask questions until you understand!
Be Your Own Best Advocate
No one is going to care more about your health than YOU. Having the right healthcare team on your side is the first step to reaching your healthcare goals. Doing your research, calling on your support system, talking with your healthcare team, and asking questions until you’re satisfied are your best tools to advocate for yourself. You are more than a diagnosis code; it’s up to you to make sure that your healthcare team knows it, too.