LatinaLista — For too long in the medical community, it’s been believed that when it comes to meeting the health needs of women, a “one-size-fits-all approach” suffices. Though Latinas, as most women, instinctively knew that philosophy was just plain wrong, few ever challenged it as thoroughly and matter-of-factly as Dr. Jane Delgado does in her book The Latina Guide to Health: Consejos and Caring Answers.
“Latinas are different in subtle ways that have a huge impact on our lives. We live longer than non-Hispanic women, but we suffer more from diseases that compromise the quality of our longer lives. The stress we experience in our close families, along with our dependence on family, turns one of our greatest strengths into our weakness. As a result, we are good at taking our children for their vaccines and wellness visits, but we do not make appointments to see our own health care providers.” — Dr. Jane Delgado
From the start of the book, Dr. Delgado tackles the issue that is dear to every Latina’s corazon — putting family first. Yet, in the process, Latinas don’t just neglect their own health, but as Dr. Delgado points out, Latinas try to reconcile two different cultural approaches in taking care of their health needs. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.
While the beginning of the book reads more like a primer for people who are unfamiliar in dealing with the U.S. healthcare system or uncomfortable in interacting with medical personnel, it still serves as a good source of support in encouraging Latinas to not be afraid to ask questions — and like a script provides exactly what questions to ask –, cautions it’s important to read the fine print of a document before signing and understanding that subjects considered before to be too embarrassing or taboo to speak about among family and friends should no longer be avoided, but brought out into the open.
A nice twist in this health book for women is that it not only addresses the physical health needs but the mental and spiritual ones as well. Dr. Delgado gives advice in both categories on how women can recognize symptoms if they feel mentally or spiritually unwell and what resources are available to help.
A handy glossary of medical terms and a list of the most common conditions that affect Latinas round out the book. From alcohol to menopause, Dr. Delgado examines each condition and its symptoms and offers additional resources where to find information while answering the most basic questions Latinas have about each.
However, it’s clear that Dr. Delgado’s intent with this book, which is also available in Spanish, is not that it just be read and shelved away. She provides charts for readers to fill in about their vital health information — blood pressure, weight, HDL, LDL; how many times they go to the doctor, list all prescribed medicine; if you’re feeling blue, write down the reason for your mood, etc.
It’s obvious that The Latina Guide to Health: Consejos and Caring is more than just a book. It’s a dictionary, a workbook, a manual and most of all — a printed record that illustrates how staying healthy is always a work-in-progress.