As a holistic health counselor and bodyworker, I help mostly over-50 women figure out the best way to care for themselves. As we talk, what often comes up is a sense of disconnect when it comes to their relationship with their medical practitioners.
They go in for an appointment, perhaps have a physical exam, and are told the results via email from their medical records platform. The relationship begins at the appointment and ends with an email that might include a prescription for a medication based on the test results.
True health care can be much better than that – and is, if you take the time to find the right practitioners. Having quality care comes when you are an active participant in the process. More and more women are seeking to be involved in their health care as they understand the importance of forming a partnership with their practitioners who understand and support their health goals.
After all, it is your body, your life. An ideal vision of a successful health care team includes the person (patient), medical team as needed, and some form(s) of complimentary care.
What have your health care experiences been like? When you go for care, is the provider interested in what you have to say? Do you have a primary care doctor who evaluates your overall health? Do you prepare for your visit and bring questions with you to help your doctor? Do you feel comfortable asking questions? Do you feel pressured for time?
As we grow older, we need both education from our doctors on prevention of the diseases associated with aging as well as a doctor who understands our health goals. Some women may feel that medication is the better choice when something is amiss while others may prefer a supplement or a lifestyle change that improves their health status.
You need to be clear about your health goals and be able to communicate those goals to a doctor who is willing to support them.
The following are 5 essential elements for transforming your health future:
This means one who listens to you and clearly explains their findings. If it’s a medical diagnosis, there should be a mutual discussion of options available for treatment.
How do you find a practitioner like this? Talk to trusted friends who have similar health goals. For physicians, read doctor profiles on healthgrades.com or other websites that review and rate doctors.
Boston magazine (and perhaps other regional publications) has an annual list of best doctors as rated by their peers. For complimentary practitioners, check with friends who use them and read their credentials carefully. Most have websites where you can learn more about their certifications.
To help you, they need to know how much time and energy you want to put into your health. If he/she makes a lifestyle recommendation you know you won’t do, don’t nod your head and leave the impression you will do what is recommended. Allow your practitioners the chance to guide you toward whatever will have the greatest benefit to your future health.
Let’s say you’ve been experiencing urinary incontinence and you’re too embarrassed to say anything. How can your practitioner help you? If you are forthcoming you may be referred to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor disorders. Remember, it’s a partnership. Communicate honestly so you can get the best outcome.
I can’t tell you how many people don’t read test results. Most blood work results are laid out in columns, showing the numbers. Beside the numbers are three columns indicating whether the results are below normal, normal, or high.
A quick glance through them will alert you to any result that is way out of the norm. Compare results year to year so you can see if a category’s number is sneaking up into a range that may be a warning sign. (Rising glucose or LDL are examples.)
It’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes reviewing these results. Ask questions if you don’t understand them. Refer to reliable websites like WebMD or Mayo Clinic for information.
In an ideal world, health care should be viewed as preventive care, not disease care. But sometimes, despite best efforts, things can go wrong. A serious diagnosis is a time like no other when you want to have an already established partnership with your doctor and other practitioners.
When your doctor truly knows you, he/she can refer you to a specialist who will support your approach to health and healing. The specialist will immediately understand you as one who seeks a partnership with him/her and to have an active say in the treatment of your illness.
A wonderful book that illustrates the power of participation in healing from a serious illness is Radical Hope by Kelly Turner. I encourage everyone to read it and keep her findings in mind as you heal from any illness.
Alternative or complimentary care techniques have been around since way before Western medicine. Traditional Chinese practitioners, Indian Ayurvedic practitioners, herbalists and Shamanic healers are just a few examples, and they remain a part of health care practices today.
Whether one chooses to use these approaches to wellness or not, they serve a vital purpose in demonstrating that there are many ways to support and heal. In my practice, I see people who use shiatsu acupressure treatments for balancing energy flow and stress reduction.
These are motivated people who are attuned to their bodies’ needs. Conventional medical doctors who welcome you as an active participant, coupled with one or more complimentary forms of health care, creates a dynamic way of honoring the potential for lifelong wellness.
Think about your best life. How much time do you give to imagining a healthy life going forward? Please share your ideas in the comments section.
Tags Healthy Aging