Need to know basis

It is the end of another year, a time when we are encouraged to look back and pick out the highlights….maybe a few lowlights too.

While you are remembering the joys of a milestone or the regrets of having missed an opportunity, take the time to also take an inventory of your health over the last year. If you are on a journey with a serious illness you are probably keenly aware of your health over the past year. But if you are someone that didn’t meet your insurance deductible then you may benefit from a review.

Why should you review your health over the last year? To look for trends. Healthcare is really about preventing illness, getting sick and then going to seek medical help is not healthcare, that is sickcare. Did you have a lot of colds last year? Did you get repeated sinus infections? Did your back lock up and keep you out of work for a week? Did you get a rash that took months to clear up? None of these are serious life threatening illnesses on their own and most of the time they can be addressed with simple remedies and lifestyle changes.

About now you are probably thinking….I can’t remember how many colds I had last year. Heck I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast!

As we roll into a new year now is the perfect time to start a healthcare binder. A healthcare binder can help you keep all of your pertinent information in one place. Everything health and wellness goes in your binder, doctor contact information, test results and medications. Having your own records can save you unwanted exposure to testing.

For 10 years I was so anemic that I was given transfusions of iron. I was bounced from doctor to doctor and test to test but no one could figure out why. One doctor suggested a hysterectomy, one doctor gave me pain pills and one said he had no idea. On more than one occasion my health binder saved me from having tests repeated when another doctor came into the mix. Oh and it turned out to be an allergy to wheat…go figure.

Your healthcare binder can be any 3 ring binder with tab dividers. It should contain your personal information, name, date of birth and address.

Make tabs for the following categories:

Providers: list all your doctors and holistic practitioners. Each entry should include the provider name, phone number, address, specialty, date you started seeing them and why you went in the first place. Remember to include all your healthcare providers including specialists, dentist, massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist and others.

Medicines: list all herbs, drugs and supplements that you are taking. Things to include would be name of the medicine, date started, dose, why you are taking it, where you buy it, who recommended it and if you discontinue using it write the date you stopped. This information is very useful when trying a new healthcare regiment, especially the reason why you started taking it. You would be surprised how many people don’t know why they are taking a supplement, how long they have been taking it or what it is supposed to do for them, they just think they should be taking it.

Visits: keep notes of any healthcare visits. Write down the date you went, who you saw, symptoms or reason for going and the outcome. This is a great place to keep notes about what the doctor said, what tests got ordered and any next steps.

Blood Work: keep copies of all your blood test results. Keep copies in chronological order to make it easier to spot a trend. For me it was watching my iron numbers steadily drop over the years.

Tests: keep copies of the results of any testing you have done. Even if you don’t understand the test or why it is being done…get the results. It may seem daunting to see pages of medical ease that you don’t understand but don’t be intimidated. Usually at the end of all the jargon is a summary that tells the results of the test.

If you really want to make this an all inclusive healthcare binder you can include a copy of your living will, healthcare power of attorney, receipts and even your health insurance information. You can make a separate binder for each member of the family or put everyone in the same binder, each with their own set of tabs. The key to a good binder is making everything easy to find.

Once you have made your healthcare binder keep it in a safe place and be sure to tell your healthcare power of attorney and those closest to you where to find it.

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