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A New Approach to Chronic Disease Management: Empower the Patient

Senior female patient discusses concerns about her medication
Patients play an important role in navigating the treatment of chronic diseases.

On the subject of chronic disease management, seniors are the experts, hands down, with up to 3 out of 4 seniors affected by multiple conditions that are chronic, necessitate long-term medical treatment, and place limitations on activities. With the continuous barrage of bloodwork and other tests, physicians’ appointments and procedures and medications, controlling chronic diseases may take both a physical and emotional toll, which could quickly become overwhelming.

Dr. Mary Tinetti, chief of geriatrics and internist at Yale School of Medicine, points out, “Once you get three, four, or five and six diseases, several things happen: Number one, almost guaranteed, trying to get one of these diseases under control is going to make one of the other diseases worse. Number two: The more we ask people to do, the more overwhelmed they get and the less they are likely to do.”

For these reasons, Dr. Tinetti has created the Patient Priorities Care approach, with the objective to reduce the stress of treatment by empowering patients to communicate their personal medical care goals – identifying what matters most to them. A plan of care will then be developed to successfully meet those goals. As an example, one individual’s goal may be to boost total wellbeing during the short-term, whereas another person may seek to increase longevity of life. This approach takes under consideration experiences the individual enjoys and outlines a path for her or him to continue to take part in them.

The Patient Priorities Care method builds upon the Minimally Disruptive Medicine strategy created ten years ago, which also aims to alleviate the stress of the treatment of chronic conditions, but did not include the key component of introducing input from patients to know which goals mean the most to them.

Ultimately, what many seniors discover is that they want to minimize “unwanted care,” which they understand requires a lot more commitment than the benefit they are going to receive, such as diagnostic tests and treatments. To that end, senior citizens and their families can make use of these beneficial resources for more successful, self-directed care, such as a conversation guide, summary of health priorities, and a lot more.

At CareFor, we’re thoroughly dedicated to understanding what is most critical to the older adults in our care. We aim to provide care that enables them to flourish and achieve successful chronic disease management. It’s why our Georgetown home care is extremely customized, and always starts off with learning as much as possible about each person and what his / her goals entail – and then developing a plan of care that can help reach those goals. See our service areas and call us at (512) 338-4533 for additional information.

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