As you get older, the traditional way health care providers have treated you is to focus on what’s the matter with you, not what matters to you.
That’s starting to change with the nationwide movement to make health care more age-friendly.
Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are working across the nation in partnership with older adults to create care plans that prioritize what you, the patient wants—things like ensuring you can go for walks or play cards, and not have memory troubles or side effects from medications.
Here are five ways you can partner with health professionals to get age-friendly care.
- Explain what matters: Consider what you enjoy—things like being able to attend church, walk in your yard, or connect with family (even if virtually)—and let your health care providers know that your goal is to continue doing what matters to you.
- Discuss medications: If you see multiple health care providers, it likely means you take multiple medications. Sometimes, these medications aren’t safe when taken together or may no longer be necessary. Bring a list of all the medications you take to appointments with health care providers. Your doctors can tell you if any of them shouldn’t be taken.
- Don’t assume forgetfulness is normal: It’s natural to begin to forget things as we age. But sometimes forgetfulness is a sign of something more serious, and sometimes it’s entirely avoidable. Bring it up with your health care professional, especially if you’re starting to forget things more often. Certain prescriptions can affect a person’s memory and can be switched to something that doesn’t affect you as much.
- Pay attention to moods: It’s okay to feel down or unmotivated at times, but depression is not a normal part of aging. Talk to your health care providers if your mood determines how your day will go and if you will enjoy doing your favorite things. An important part of age-friendly care is talking to your health care provider about how you feel physically and mentally.
- Expect to stay active: A big part of age-friendly health care is keeping older adults mobile to the fullest extent possible. For some, that means a weekly exercise class. For others, it’s being able to get in and out of your favorite chair or couch to read. Talk to your health care providers about your expectations for staying mobile and active, and about a plan for how to get or keep you there.
All of us age, but not in the same way. Everyone deserves and should expect age-friendly health care that is centered around your priorities and helps you lead your best life.
For more resources on age-friendly care, visit johnahartford.org/agefriendly.
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