How to Get the Best Care as a Senior Citizen ๐Ÿง“๐Ÿผ๐Ÿฅ

A new study by the Hartford Foundation reveals that age-friendly healthcare should prioritize memory, mobility, medications, and the priorities of older adults.

Age-Friendly Health Care A Fresh Approach

Did you know that Americaโ€™s senior population has grown by 34.2% in the last 10 years? ๐Ÿ“ˆ Thatโ€™s right, there are now approximately 54 million Americans aged 65 and older! As a member of this esteemed group, you might find yourself taking multiple medications, visiting several different doctors, and dealing with at least one chronic health condition. But do you ever feel like your voice isnโ€™t being heard? ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Well, youโ€™re not alone! According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, one in five older adults reported experiencing age discrimination from their healthcare providers. This discrimination not only affects their emotional well-being but can also have a negative impact on their overall health. ๐Ÿ˜”

Itโ€™s time to change the narrative and ensure that our elders receive the care and attention they deserve. Thatโ€™s where Age-Friendly Health Systems (AFHS) comes in! Developed by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the American Hospital Association, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States, AFHS aims to revolutionize the way we care for older adults. This new approach puts the focus back on the patient by considering their personal preferences and health goals, rather than just relying on test results or a doctorโ€™s opinion. ๐ŸŽฏ

The 4Ms: Your Goals Shape Your Care ๐ŸŽฏ๐Ÿฅ

AFHS recommends that doctors and nurses plan care for older adults based on what matters most to them. This means taking into account their personal lifestyle and health goals. Additionally, AFHS emphasizes the importance of addressing the following building blocks of high-quality care, known as the 4Ms:

  1. What matters: This involves understanding the personal goals and values of older adults, and tailoring their treatment accordingly.
  2. Medications: Itโ€™s essential to evaluate the medications seniors are taking, including whether they are necessary and if any side effects interfere with their daily activities.
  3. Mobility: Ensuring older adults can move safely, function in their daily lives, and do the things that matter most to them.
  4. Mentation: Recognizing and managing memory loss, dementia, and/or depression.

By incorporating the 4Ms into every medical visit or decision, healthcare providers can provide a more personalized and holistic approach to senior care. ๐Ÿ’™

Bridging the Gap: Doctors Listening to What Matters to You ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš•๏ธ

While the concept of age-friendly care has gained momentum, itโ€™s crucial to ensure that healthcare providers are actively implementing these principles. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, primary care providers agree that older patients require a different approach to care. However, only half of them consistently consider their patientโ€™s age when making treatment decisions. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

To bridge this gap, doctors and nurses need to become better listeners and actively engage older patients in their own care. By asking the simple question, โ€œWhat matters to you?โ€, healthcare providers can gain insight into the unique needs and aspirations of each individual. This conversation should be approached explicitly by every physician. Itโ€™s time to revolutionize the way we treat our elderly patients! ๐Ÿ’ช

Addressing High-Risk Medications and Ensuring Safety ๐Ÿ›‘๐Ÿ’Š

As we age, our bodies undergo changes that can affect how certain medications interact with our system. Unfortunately, many older adults are prescribed medications that may cause harmful side effects or negatively impact their quality of life. For example, antipsychotic drugs, commonly prescribed to older individuals with dementia, can make them drowsy and increase the risk of falls. ๐Ÿ˜ดโš ๏ธ

Healthcare providers must address this issue by regularly reviewing older patientsโ€™ use of high-risk medications and screening for depression. However, the study mentioned earlier revealed that only 78% of doctors take their patients off or lower their dose of high-risk meds, or avoid using these drugs altogether. By actively listening to older adults and considering their concerns about medication side effects, healthcare providers can ensure the prescriptions they give are appropriate for their patientsโ€™ well-being. ๐Ÿ’Š๐Ÿ’š

Mobility and Mentation: Keep Moving, Keep Growing ๐Ÿšถโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿง 

The AFHS framework also highlights the importance of mobility and mentation in senior care. Providers should not only screen older patients for mobility problems but also actively assist them in moving better and preventing falls. Physical therapy and exercises that promote strength and balance are excellent strategies to achieve this goal. ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’ƒ

Furthermore, mentation, which refers to cognitive function, memory, and decision-making abilities, is a crucial aspect of senior care. It is essential for healthcare providers to refer patients who show signs of cognitive impairment for further tests and treatment. However, the study revealed that this is not consistently happening. By ensuring early detection and intervention, healthcare professionals can help seniors maintain their mental well-being and quality of life. ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿ’™

Making the Most of Short Office Visits ๐Ÿ•’๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš•๏ธ

As healthcare visits often last just a short time, itโ€™s important for older patients to make the most of this limited interaction. While doctors and nurses should take the lead in initiating conversations about seniorsโ€™ needs and concerns, patients can also play an active role. By voicing their feelings and discussing their capabilities and limitations, seniors can actively participate in their own care. Let your voice be heard! ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฌ

To ensure that patient-centered care becomes the norm, healthcare providers need more training in putting older adultsโ€™ needs first. By focusing on the unique requirements and preferences of older patients and involving them in decision-making, we can create a more seamless and effective healthcare system for everyone. Letโ€™s start the conversation and pave the way for a healthier future! ๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ’™

๐ŸŽฏ Q&A Section ๐ŸŽฏ

Q: How can I, as an older adult, ensure that my doctor listens to me and includes me in important healthcare decisions? A: Communication is key! Take the initiative to let your doctor know what matters to you. Express your goals, aspirations, and concerns clearly. If you find it difficult to start this conversation, try saying something like, โ€œI want to talk with you about my mobility, my mood, and my medications, all based on what matters to me.โ€ Your doctor should value your input and actively include you in the decision-making process.

Q: Are there any online resources where I can learn more about age-friendly care and get the support I need as a senior citizen? A: Absolutely! The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have excellent online resources about age-friendly care. Additionally, AARP, a leading organization advocating for older adults, provides a wealth of valuable information, including articles, tools, and community support.

Q: What are some safe exercises I can do to improve my mobility and prevent falls? A: Physical activity is crucial for maintaining mobility and balance. Walking, swimming, tai chi, and chair exercises are all excellent options for seniors. However, itโ€™s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.

Donโ€™t forget to share this article with your loved ones and on social media! Together, we can create a healthcare system that truly puts older adults at the center of care. Letโ€™s give our seniors the attention, respect, and high-quality care they deserve! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿฅ

๐Ÿ“š References:Age Friendly Health SystemsAge Discrimination in HealthcareHigh-Risk Medications for Older AdultsFall Prevention and Mobility Exercises

๐ŸŽฅ Videos: 1. Age-Friendly Health Systems: What Matters to You? 2. The Importance of Mobility and Exercise for Seniors