October is Health Literacy Month — a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information. It is a time for working together to understand the benefits of good health and to share these benefits with others.
Health literacy is the degree to which an individual can obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. Many people don’t understand what is being told to them, encouraging poor decision-making on health problems and their future.
All people, and not just those with limited reading skills or people for whom English is a second language, are affected by limited health literacy. According to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty understanding and using routine health information.
It’s important for kids to become health literate as they grow so they can take care of themselves and make good health decisions. Here are four points students and parents need to understand:
Know where to get accurate health information.
Help kids understand some of the trusted sources for health information. Some good sources are doctors, nurses, parents, and teachers. Explain that not all information found on the Internet is reliable, and to find trusted resources that deliver good medical information.
Encourage your students to ask questions if they don’t understand something. They should not be afraid to talk to trusted sources. Write down questions and prompt your students to make sure their questions are answered before the end of the visit.
Understand the health information.
Kids need to understand what their informational source is saying. Health and the body are complicated scientific subjects. Talk to your students about what to do if they get health information but don’t understand it. Asking questions is the key to understanding
Apply the information to make good decisions.
Most students know that what they do as kids affects their health as adults. The more kids learn about health, the more they can start taking steps on their own to being healthy and happy.
The most important part of health literacy is to be sure you understand the medical terminology around you. If you don’t understand, ask. Make it a point to know what good health means to you, and share this information with friends and family. Help them become literate, too.
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