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6 Steps to Get the Best Hospital Care

6 Steps to Get the Best Hospital Care

    It is assumed that everyone who walks through the doors of a hospital will get the same quality of care. The reality is that the hospital is a system like any other—with imperfect people, inefficiencies, misconceptions, and miscommunication. Before you find yourself taking a planned or unplanned trip to the hospital, there are a few things you can do to get the best hospital care.

    1. Be your best advocate

    The patient-provider interaction is undergoing an unprecedented change as information becomes increasingly accessible to the general public. You are the most important person in charge of your health; be proactive in taking care of yourself. Read books and search the Internet, however evaluate the source of any information. Realize that misinformation may be deliberate or unintentional. For rare conditions, you may become more educated than non-specialist providers who may have never encountered or experienced your diagnosis.

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    2. Don’t leave home without it

    One of the important pieces of information obtained in any hospital admission is a list of medications the patient is taking. Patients unable to remember their medications may encounter potentially harmful complications. Realize that your memory may not be optimal in a stressful emergency department, especially if you are anxious or in pain. In extreme situations you may not even be conscious. Therefore take the time right now to gather your medications and generate a legible list that you keep in your wallet—pay particular attention to the name, dose, and frequency. It is also equally important to note any drug allergies on the same sheet of paper. If you have reacted to a drug, please note when this happened and the extent of your reaction.

    3. Be the best historian

    The story of your illness can change—either as you remember lost details or through the “telephone effect” as more people become involved in your care. Expect to tell the details of your circumstance at least 8-10 times if you are admitted to the emergency department. Ideally, if you are able to write down the details of your story it may reduce time and frustration as well as reduce the possibility of incorrect information being propagated in your medical records and your care.

    Specifically, providers are interested in the onset of your condition (eg, slow, gradual, rapid, fluctuating), the timeline (especially if there have been recent changes), the involved parts of your body, what treatments you have tried or were done by other providers, or any factors that made your condition better or worse. Please tell them early if you have received care in other facilities as it often takes time to access outside records.

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    4. Remind them who you are

    For various reasons it is easy for providers to lose sight of who you were before you got sick. Pictures have an incredibly profound effect on allowing providers to see you as a person and give extra motivation to help you return to that state so you can return to your friends and family.

    5. Understand before you leave

    Make sure you understand exactly what happened during your hospital course. What were the major treatments performed? What diagnoses were established or refuted? You should be provided with a discharge summary. Go over it and ask for any inconsistencies or errors to be fixed.

    This is important because these summaries are often used by future providers to piece together your past history with your current condition. Lastly, ask your provider what records of radiological studies, pathology or surgical reports, or other tests should be obtained and brought to future encounters. It may save you from unnecessary medical procedures and prevent any future confusion. Be sure to make copies of everything, providers are notorious for not returning documents and data disks.

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    6. Find a partner in health

    Your providers are limited by time, space, and energy. They may be unable to address all of your health needs during your admission. As a result, patients are often discharged and expected to follow up with their primary care provider. Many readmissions can be prevented if patients are able to follow up with a provider outside the hospital.

    For those who are financially able, please see your primary care provider 1-2 times a year. Ask them for tailored interventions you can undertake to prevent, stabilize, or reduce disease burden in your life. As always, prevention is better than cure. Lastly, ask your provider what conditions you should include along with the list of medications and allergies you keep in your wallet.

    As you begin new adventures this year, I hope this year is one of better health.

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    (Photo credit: Doctor via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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