Epilepsy: Three Things You Need to Know about Patient Empowerment

Learn how to take your epilepsy healthcare into your own hands and approach your doctor in a more confident, educated way.

Epilepsy: Three Things You Need to Know about Patient Empowerment

By Lana Barhum Published at November 5, 2014 Views 3,106

It is very difficult for patients to do what they don’t understand. Therefore, it is vital to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to take a more active role in your healthcare.

Patient empowerment allows patients to take an active role in the decisions they make about their health. Moreover, empowerment requires patients to take responsibility through open communication with their doctors, taking medications as prescribed, eating healthy and exercising regularly. It also allows them to create a joint partnership with their doctors where change can actually be long lasting.

Here are three things you need to know about patient empowerment.

Patient Empowerment Is Important

Chronic illness is the biggest cause of death and disability in the United States, this according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients are the only ones in the position to decide what managing their diseases means because they are responsible for following treatments and making the best of their lives despite chronic illness.

The patient is always at the center of epilepsy care. When patients are active and involved participants, they achieve better outcomes. Doctors don’t necessarily know the details of patients’ lives. Patients are the experts on their lives and they know what their priorities are, what motivates them, and what goals they have in mind better than anyone else. Physicians find that patients who take responsibility for their epilepsy are much easier to work with.

Education Empowers You

The first step in taking responsibility for your healthcare is through education about your epilepsy and how to best manage symptoms. Patients need to learn all they can about their epilepsy. Because doctors no longer have the time to sit down with patients and lecture them about taking care of themselves, people need to learn how their epilepsy affects their lives and how they can best manage their lives when their epilepsy symptoms affect their lifestyle.

Patients need to understand the seriousness of their epilepsy in order to make changes in their health. These changes involve day-to-day self-management. Every decision a patient makes throughout the day has an influence on their health. This includes actions such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or choosing an apple instead of a bag of chips.

Patients have options when it comes to treating their epilepsy. They should take responsibility to understand treatment options and the costs and benefits of each; only the patient knows if the benefits outweigh the costs.

And finally, patients should understand they are the only ones who can change their behavior. They can do this by setting small goals and figuring out what they need to learn along the way.

Empowerment Helps You to Set Goals

Patients do best when their find out what works for them on their own. Doctors can offer suggestions on what has worked for other patients but ultimately, it is each patient’s decision to set their own goals and make the final decisions.

The process of goal setting involves understanding the problem and then determining a plan to solve it. In order to understand the problem, think about all the things that concern and distress you, what activities are hard, and what you would like to see changed. Once you have determined what the problem is, you can figure out how to resolve it. Take into consideration what you would like to see happen, what you have done in the past, and what things you would actually like to try.

Trust Your Instincts

Doctors can give advice but they can’t make the decisions for the patients, and many of these decisions have long-lasting impacts. Ultimately, patients need to trust their instincts to find solutions and take responsibility for their health. They are the only ones who can empower themselves along that path.

To learn more about communicating with your doctor with authority:

Talking to Your Doctor: What to Do when Potential Side Effects Are Worrying You
Traits to Look for in a Healthcare Provider
Telling Your Primary Care Doc You Want To "See Other Physicians"

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