Today’s healthcare industry focuses more and more on patient education as a vital tool to use by HCPs with all patients, no matter what group age they are. “In today's world, patients can take on more responsibility for their own care, and they must” (Paula Duistermars, HLT 306 Lecture 4). A well informed patient is more willing to be compliant and help out in achieving a positive outcome than an uninformed and uneducated patient. Our goal as HCP’s, as well as the patient’s ultimate goal, is to offer, thus receive, the best care possible.
The HCP’s job of establishing effective patient education with the elderly can be a challenge. In dealing with the older patient, the HCP must consider all factors that influence their willingness to be compliant, such as culture, religious beliefs, family, awareness of their condition, other medical conditions they may be experiencing, as well as making sure that they show empathy and genuine care, and are respectful and thoughtful of their needs and preference. “Patient education should address helping the older person to assume responsibility for a share of his or her own health care” ,therefore the HCP should use ways that encourage and engage the patient to participate in their plan of care.
A proof of this is the interview with my great-grandma, Martha, who is in her late 80s:
“Grandma, you carry many pills with you every time you travel. Why are you taking them?”
“I am old, and I need these to keep strong and stay healthy. My doctor takes good care of me, and at every visit if I don’t take these, it will show in my tests. Also, I have to take my vitamins and supplements, that’s how I stay sharp and can come visit you guys!”
“Now, do you know whether you can take these all together, every day?”
“Yes, yes, I go to the same pharmacy and refill, and my nurse went over all pills with me and explained what they do. Don’t worry dear, I may be old, but I know how they work, have been taking them for years…”
“I notice grandma that you go for a walk every morning, and you also go for a swim once a day. Is this something your doctor asked you to do?”
“I had a heart-to-heart talk to my doctor, God bless him, and he’s so nice…He asked what I like to do that he can consider exercise. So I told him, I like to swim, and I like to walk. And there it was, my exercising, I do them both sometimes. That’s how I stay healthy!”
In this example, effective patient education was established: grandma is well aware of what she needs to do to stay healthy, and is diligent about it…