Keeping track of your health
Looking after yourself is one of the most important jobs you have. Especially if you have children, or if you’re caring for a spouse or aging parents, taking care of yourself should be at the top of your to-do list because the people who rely on you need you to be healthy, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately sometimes we let this critical task slide. We may let prescriptions lapse, or forget to take important medication, or put off going to the doctor because we think we don’t have time or we’re squeamish about being poked and prodded.
It’s time to get back on track. Your health matters to you and to the people who love you.
We’ve compiled some simple organizational tips that can help you keep track of your personal medical information. We also have some great advice for making that all-important annual physical go as smoothly as possible.
- Start a file. Get a file folder or large envelope and keep all your important medical information tucked away in one place. Medical test results, copies of prescriptions, a list of all past and present medications you’re taking including any supplements, information about allergies and any chronic medical conditions you may have, immunization records, medical records from any surgeries or hospital stays – this should all be kept together in one place. Not only is it great for you to be able to access this information any time you need to, but in the event of an emergency a loved one can grab your file and bring it along to the hospital and share pertinent information with the medical staff. Consider keeping a file like this for everyone in your household.
- Keep a medical journal. If you have a chronic medical condition, or you’re newly diagnosed with one, include a journal in your medical file. You can keep track of symptoms, record key information like blood sugar numbers or blood pressure readings, and jot down questions or concerns you want to talk to your doctor about at your next appointment. You can bring the journal along with you to your appointments and write down any key information your doctor passes along so you’ll always have it at your fingertips.
- Make your pharmacist your partner. In addition to being experts on medications, pharmacists often provide additional services to their customers including wellness programs, free blood pressure screening, and flu shot clinics. Many will also help you organize your prescriptions by pre-packaging them in daily doses to help ensure that you’re taking them when you should. Talk to your pharmacist about the services they offer.
- Keep emergency information handy. This is particularly important if you live alone. You can order free medical emergency kits online that you fill out and store in your freezer. The information in the kit includes medications, allergies, emergency contacts, physician contacts, and your medical history. EMTs are trained to look in the freezer for this information, and a fridge magnet alerts them that the kit can indeed be found there.
Your next visit to the doctor
- Write it down. Write down important questions you want to ask your physician at your annual check up – or anytime you’re visiting. Time is often limited, so writing down your questions or concerns will help keep things on track and ensure you don’t forget anything important.
- Record it. If your doctor is okay with you doing so, bring a digital recorder and record the visit. That way you’ll be sure that you don’t miss any key instructions or advice, or remember something incorrectly.
- Bring a list of your medications and any supplements you’re taking. This information should be in your doctor’s files, but it doesn’t hurt to have the most accurate information with you just in case.
- Make sure you’re up to date. Ask about important screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies, as well as immunization updates.
- Be honest. Your doctor may ask what appear to be prying questions, but there’s a good reason she’s asking them, so be open and honest. It’s the only way to get a complete assessment of your health.
- Remember your mental health is important too. If you’ve been under a lot of stress and you feel its taking its toll, or you’ve been feeling blue longer than you think is normal for you, have a chat with your doctor about what’s going on in your head. Your mental health is an important part of your overall good health.
With your medical information organized and easy to access, and your appointments made and up-to-date, you can relax knowing that you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy and happy.
414095E CAN/US (09/16)