Patients Empowered by Collaborative Care

The patient’s place in managing their own health care has evolved over time and today, individuals are encouraged to take an active role alongside medical professionals and caregivers. Person-centered care includes the patient, giving them a voice, and helping to alleviate anxiety and empower the individual.

According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal post, being a self-advocate and collaborating with healthcare providers can empower patients, especially people with chronic illness.  Older adults and individuals with ongoing health conditions benefit not only from personalized care planning but also by communicating their end-of-life wishes.  

The majority of seniors, approximately 85 percent, have at least one chronic health condition and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60 percent of older adults have at least two chronic conditions.  Care planning that includes the patients has been found to help boost confidence in self-management of diseases and improve outcomes among people with diabetes, asthma, and depression. 

Person-centered care involving the individual as well as the care team can also help caregivers avoid burnout and reduce stress when they are able to communicate their needs and work to find solutions collaboratively.  Creating a personalized care plan not only can improve health outcomes, planning ahead can help families cope better during a health crisis, relieving some of the anxiety during stressful times.   Many families avoid end-of-life discussions believing them to be morbid and depressing, but many older adults want to be involved in decision-making while they are able to communicate their treatment preferences.

Being proactive about one’s own health care is not only empowering for seniors; a collaborative care strategy takes the guesswork and stress out of decision-making for loved ones.  Research has found that although many families shy away from talking about advanced-care directives, studies have found that relatives do not always predict their loved-ones wishes accurately.  Documenting end-of-life wishes and treatment decisions can increase the likelihood that the patient’s wishes are followed and unnecessary and stressful hospitalizations are avoided.

Learn more about creating an advance care plan in Canada by following this link to Speak Up Canada.  Or visit AARP’s Family Caregiving page to download free advance directives forms for each state.