AgriLife Extension offers a health literacy program for seniors

Staff report

The Ellis County AgriLife Extension Office will be offering Mondays, Oct. 3 through Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. in room 107 of the Wahachie Senior Center.

The program includes five sessions on healthy lifestyle choices, understanding Medicare benefits, building a good relationship with your doctor, managing medications, and finding reliable information on the Internet. Adults over 65, family members and caregivers, and health care professionals are encouraged to participate.

The ability to access, understand, and apply health information (health education) is key to making informed health decisions. Evidence shows that people with higher health literacy are more likely to seek preventive care, adhere to treatment plans, and experience fewer hospital and emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays.

According to Andy Crocker, Senior Extension Program Specialist, there is now an emphasis on patient-clinician collaboration and shared responsibility.

“An older adult’s health literacy may vary depending on changes in medical conditions, providers or services,” Crocker said. No matter the context, we all want to feel confident in our decisions and understand that we are receiving cost-effective, safe, and high-quality health care.

Paula Butler, AgriLife Extension regional program leader, says the benefits of health literacy among older adults extend beyond their own improved health care decisions and improved health status.

“Ultimately, health literacy should lead to cost savings in the health care system and improved patient-provider satisfaction,” Butler said. “We want to help seniors take an active role in health care, which benefits not only the individual, but the larger community as well.”

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