January 24, 2024

How Improving Your Health Literacy Benefits Your Health


It’s January, which means that many people are working hard to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Even if you’re not someone who follows tradition, the new year is a great time to emphasize your overall well-being, and you may want to consider setting a goal to improve your health literacy in 2024.

In this blog, we dive into what health literacy is, why it’s important, how it ties into medication adherence, and how all of this can affect an individual’s health and overall well-being. We also provide some helpful tips on how you can improve your health literacy. 

The Importance of Health Literacy

Health literacy refers to an individual’s ability to find, understand, and use health information and services to help make informed decisions about their health. High health literacy can help you to better understand health conditions you or a loved one may have, manage your medications appropriately, and make informed decisions about your health. 

Low health literacy can lead to less-than-ideal health outcomes, including health complications, undiagnosed health conditions, higher healthcare costs, and even hospitalization. 

For example, if you aren’t well informed about a chronic disease you may have, such as diabetes or hypertension, you may have difficulty managing it properly, which can result in potential health complications. 

Additionally, if your health literacy is low, you might be less likely to seek out preventive care, such as cancer screenings or vaccinations. If you don’t know what symptoms to look out for, you may not be aware that something isn’t “normal” and not think to visit a doctor. 

Utilizing the resources available to you, such as healthcare professionals and reputable resources online, can help you improve your health literacy. This improvement helps to prevent potential health complications resulting from low health literacy. 

Health Literacy and Medication Adherence

Medication adherence is when an individual takes their medications as prescribed and directed, and an adherence rate of 80% or more can increase positive health outcomes. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50% of patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, also known as medication non-adherence. 

Medication non-adherence has multiple downsides and can prevent your health conditions from improving, or even worsen them, which has the potential to lead to hospitalization or increased medical costs. There are many possible reasons for medication non-adherence, including low health literacy.

If you have low health literacy, you may have difficulty understanding medication instructions and end up taking your medication incorrectly. Missing a dose, taking the wrong dose, or taking medications together that have potentially harmful interactions could all lead to dangerous or possibly life-threatening situations.

Your medication instructions are not optional or a “suggestion,” and low health literacy can lead to medication non-adherence, which can be dangerous and costly, leading to treatment failures, hospitalization, and in some cases, death. 

If you’re on maintenance medications, you may be affected more by this, especially if you take more than one daily. It’s extremely important for you to be aware of what medications you’re taking and ensure that you’re taking them correctly.

High health literacy leads to increased medication adherence, which leads to better health outcomes. When you’re informed of your medical conditions and manage them correctly, you’re helping to avoid any potentially harmful side effects of not taking your medications properly. 

Seniors and Struggles with Health Literacy

While many people don’t understand the importance of taking their medications as instructed, this seems to be especially true of the elderly population. They can often take too small or too high a dose, or simply take their medications only when they feel like doing so, without understanding the risks. 

While people have access to the internet and more information than ever before, many seniors are not used to using this technology. The older population couldn’t look up information and research questions about their medications on the internet, and information simply wasn’t as readily available as it is now. 

Since many seniors are not used to researching their medications or their health concerns on their own, they may have a lower health literacy than other populations. This low health literacy can cause seniors to find themselves in unsafe and undesirable health situations, especially due to medication non-adherence. 

How to Improve Health Literacy and Medication Adherence

Healthcare professionals are a great resource in improving your health literacy but are often not utilized as much as they could be. Listening to the medical advice of your doctors and pharmacist can make a big difference in your health and overall well-being. 

According to a recent poll, one-third of people who utilized an online pharmacy didn’t tell their primary care provider about it, and one-third said their primary care provider wasn’t made aware of a new prescription that they received through the service. 

While convenience is beneficial when it comes to your medications, it doesn’t cover everything. You still need to work with your care team, pharmacist, and other healthcare providers to ensure you’re receiving the best care possible.

Some ways to improve your health literacy and medication adherence include reading medication labels carefully and asking your doctor and pharmacist any questions you may have about your health and medications. 

Your pharmacist is also a great resource for improving your health literacy and medication adherence. This is especially true if your pharmacy doesn’t stop at convenience, has a focus on customer service, and will work with your care team, such as PersonalRX. 

PersonalRX is a home delivery pharmacy that delivers your medication to you in time-of-day dose packs that are labeled with each medication so that you never miss a dose. They are a home delivery pharmacy with a focus on care and provide each of their patients with a dedicated Personal Care Coordinator, who is available 24/7 to answer any questions about medications.

Additionally, professional caregivers can be a great resource in improving your health literacy. They often know a good amount about different health conditions and can help with ensuring you’re staying on top of taking your medications as directed.

Improving Your Health Literacy

Whether or not you’ve personally made any resolutions this year, improving your health is never a bad goal to have. Increasing your health literacy can help you boost your medication adherence and properly manage your health conditions.

Utilizing the resources available to you, including healthcare professionals such as your doctor, pharmacist, or caregiver, to ask questions and learn more about your health conditions can help boost your health and avoid any potential complications.

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