Empowering Patients: A New Approach to Chronic Disease Management

Patients are improving outcomes by becoming increasingly involved in the treatment of chronic diseases.

When it comes to chronic diseases, the elderly are usually the experts, with up to 3 out of 4 older persons affected by several conditions that are chronic, require long-term medical treatment, and create restrictions on a daily basis. Due to the constant barrage of bloodwork along with other lab tests, medications, doctors’ appointments and procedures, controlling chronic diseases often takes both a physical and emotional toll, and can very quickly become daunting.

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 developed the Patient Priorities Care approach, with the goal to reduce the stress of treatment by empowering patients to communicate their personal medical care goals – determining what truly matters most to them. A plan of care is then developed to best meet those goals. As an example, one person’s goal could possibly be to improve total well-being in the short-term, whereas someone else may seek to improve longevity of life. This new approach takes into consideration activities a senior loved one enjoys, developing a strategy for this individual to continue participating in activities important to him or her.

The Patient Priorities Care method builds upon the Minimally Disruptive Medicine strategy developed about ten years ago, which also aims to help remedy the burden of treating chronic diseases, but did not encompass the key component of introducing input from patients to know what means the most to them.

Ultimately, many seniors recognize they prefer to lessen “unwanted care,” which they believe requires more trouble than the benefit they’re going to receive, such as with diagnostic tests and procedures. To that end, older adults and their families can make use of these valuable resources to get more effective, self-directed care, such as a discussion guide, overview of health goals, and more.

At CareWorks Health Services, we are completely devoted to customizing care according to what is most important to the individuals we serve. We are committed to giving the degree of care that can help them to thrive and reach their goals. This is why our care is fully personalized, and always starts with discovering as much as possible about every individual and what his/her goals entail – and then developing a plan of care to help reach those goals. Call us at (949) 859-4700 to find out more about options for senior care in Huntington Beach and throughout Orange County.