October is Health Literacy Month!

Did you know that October is Health Literacy Month? This year’s theme is “Be Smart About Your Health: Talk, Read, Write.” What does that mean? Well, let’s break it down. 

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. So what does that mean for parents? 

It means being proactive about your child’s health! It means being able to read, write, and understand medical information so that you can make informed decisions about your child’s care. It also means having conversations with your child’s healthcare providers so that you can ask questions and advocate for your child. 

Why is Health Literacy Important? 

Parents need to be involved in their child’s health in order to ensure that they are getting the best possible care. Unfortunately, many parents do not feel confident in their ability to navigate the healthcare system or understand medical information. This can lead to problems such as medication errors, delayed immunizations, and poor disease management. 

Health literacy is a problem nationwide, but it disproportionately affects low-income families, minority groups, and older adults. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 9 out of 10 low-income parents report difficulty understanding medical information. This lack of understanding can have serious consequences for children—especially if they have a chronic illness or condition that requires ongoing medical care. 

What Can Parents Do? 

There are a few things that parents can do to make sure that they are as health literate as possible. First and foremost, parents should keep up with their own preventative care and screenings. This not only sets a good example for their children, but it also ensures that parents are healthy enough to take care of their children. In addition, parents should: 

  • Make sure that their children see a pediatrician or family doctor regularly 

  • Keep copies of their children’s immunization records in a safe place 

  • Learn about their children’s medications (including how to administer them) 

  • Know when and where to take their children if they become ill or injured 

October may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean that the importance of health literacy disappears along with it. Parents need to be involved in their child’s health all year round in order to ensure that they are getting the best possible care. By familiarizing themselves with medical information and knowing how to navigate the healthcare system, parents can play a vital role in keeping their children healthy and happy!