More on the National Library of Medicine: for Boomers and Aging Parents

In my last post I wrote about the tutorial at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) designed to help people learn how to evaluate health information on the web. NLM, one of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, provides much more on its website, information that is especially useful to families seeking medical information.

A part of the NLM website is set up for the public to use and is available in English and Spanish. The site has a strict privacy policy. Adult children and their parents should explore the site now, becoming familiar with health information and resources that will be useful when a family member needs to search quickly for reliable medical information. If you are a caregiver for an aging parent you know that time is limited and locating the best information as fast as possible is critical. Below I’ve listed a few features of the NLM website that make it easy for anyone to freely search for health information.

  • The most prominent area in the public section links to Medline Plus, the searchable database with massive amounts of information about drugs, medical conditions, procedures, hospitals, physicians, wellness, and much more. Just about any information a person needs to understand a medical issue is available here. Users can also access a medical dictionary and encyclopedia as well as a mobile version of the Medline Plus site that is easily used via a mobile phone browser, though it’s not a stand-alone application that one purchases.
  • NIH Medline Plus the Magazine, is a publication with interesting health articles that comes out  (in paper form and online) several times a year. If you decide to subscribe online a link will offer the opportunity to sign up to be notified when information on various health conditions becomes available.
  • A section titled Reliable Health Information from NLM leads to multiple health databases and safety information, including data on household products, clinical trials, and the renowned PubMed, a repository of authors’ abstracts from articles published in nearly every medical journal in the world. If the publisher makes the full article available for free, PubMed will provide a link to it. Otherwise you may need to go to the library of your local hospital to get a copy.
  • Check out the online interactive exhibits — interesting for grandparents, parents, or grandchildren — and filled with history, medical information, scientific facts, and beautiful graphics. Current exhibits include Greek Medicine, Images from the History of Medicine, and Profiles in Science, but other exhibitions are available and new ones appear frequently.

Just about every time we need medical information, whether it is for an aging parents, for ourselves, or for close friends, the National Library of Medicine and Medline are starting points. If your parents are among the many elderly senior citizens who seek out health information on the Internet, go over the evaluation tutorial described in the post just before this one and then demonstrate how the National Library of Medicine website is a great place to start. Better yet, add the library to a prominent place in the favorite links file of their browser.

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