The geriatric population has the highest rate of low health literacy when compared with other age groups. To maximize health outcomes with this group, healthcare providers have an obligation to recognize individuals with potential for low health literacy and educate these patients in a manner that ensures understanding. Research and clinical experience have demonstrated several interventions that are useful in providing effective health education including the use of the teach-back technique, multimedia material including visual aids, simple and clear language, support persons, and experiences. The cases presented in this article emphasize awareness of individuals at risk for low health literacy and interventions that are effective in helping patients understand how to care for themselves.
Carolyn Crane Cutilli, MSN, RN, ONC, CRRN, Doctoral Student, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, and Mortality Review Nurse, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia.
Cynthia T. Schaefer, MSN, RN, Assistant Professor, University of Evansville, Evansville, IN, and doctoral student, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.
The authors have disclosed that they have no financial interests to any commercial company related to this educational activity.