Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Why Is it . . .

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. . . that the most boring conversations begin with,

“I don’t want to bore you with my problems,

but . . .”

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Everyone seemed to enjoy St. Paddy’s Day doings

so don’t forget the Irish spirits-and-beer-tasting at

5 p.m. Sunday in the bistro.

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3 Little Questions Can Improve Health

If you can read and understand this clearly, you’re already a step ahead of many adults in the battle to stay healthy. Health literacy, which refers to the ability to read, understand, and act upon health information, has been identified as a hidden health crisis that affects all ages, races, and income levels.

This often-overlooked area of the health-care field puts one out of three people at risk for poor health outcomes. Health-care costs for individuals with low literacy skills have been estimated to be four times higher than for those with higher literacy skills. And patients with low literacy skills face a 50 percent higher risk of hospitalization compared with patients with adequate literacy skills.

Research suggests that people with low reading levels make more medication and treatment errors and lack the skills needed to successfully negotiate the health-care system. This affects the elderly because two-thirds of adults 60 years of age and older reportedly have either inadequate or marginal literacy skills.

The literacy problem can stem from poor reading comprehension, the complexity of medical information, the format in which it is delivered, or any combination of these. Studies show that anyone can have difficulty understanding health-care information. Even college-educated people who can understand complicated verbiage prefer to have medical information stated simply.

Medical terms often come across to patients as if the doctor is speaking another language. A sampling of some used by doctors and health-care providers include:

–dysfunction, a medical term that can replace problem;

–landmark, a conceptual term for turning point;

–cognitive, a term that can replace learning, and

–progressive, a value-judgment description that can mean getting worse or getting better._

A tool has been developed to make clear communication easier. It’s available on line at This program promotes three simple, but essential, questions patients should ask their doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other health-care provider in every health-care situation.

1. What is my main problem?

2. What do I need to do?

3. Why is it important for me to do this?

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 17, 2023 at 8:53 pm

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