Home health care provided by nurses or therapists is useful, as is a recommendation for palliative care from your primary health provider. But many medical experts will tell you that a third component can also be important to Northridge residents: yourself.
The concept is called self-care, which encourages people to put themselves and their health first, including doing more things that are good for them and avoiding as many bad/unhealthy things as possible.
The team at Accredited Home Care encourages clients to focus on self-care when possible. After all, while their staff is happy to help your physical health during scheduled visits or even to arrange a caregiver or other related personnel, you’re the best one to know what works and what doesn’t in your life.
Self-care from a wellness perspective goes beyond how you’re feeling physically. It has mental components, like how your mood is, your anxiety levels or how you’re feeling about life. It can include emotional components like the state of your interpersonal relationships and your own self-esteem/self-confidence.
It’s also something that is easy to neglect. People get busy with jobs, family matters, and other commitments. Some people with chronic health conditions also may find it easier just to do everything a doctor, nurse or other provider tells them. While there are usually benefits to following doctor’s orders or related medical recommendations, sometimes waiting for her, him or them to decide what’s best for you can be a bit passive.
Instead, there are some ways clients can not just follow an official recommend health plan but get their questions and concerns answered and be an active participant in their own health and wellness efforts.
Self-care, if done right, can be thought of as something that everyone benefits from. It lets people focus on the ingredients of their own lives, and helps remove some guilt or discomfort about spending too much time on activities and situations that aren’t healthy (including people), too little time on what feels good, or having to make sacrifices too often.
It also can benefit any medical personnel who work with you. Trying to maintain a positive attitude when possible, no matter the health condition or health need can sometimes help your overall health. Patients who try to focus on self-care can find ways to do this in all aspects of their lives at any age.
For instance, someone who is still working can occasionally take a day off to reduce stress levels and catch their breath. Or if you can’t get away, you can at least take ‘mini ’vacations from co-workers and projects by closing your door or turning off email for 30 minutes at a time.
Seniors can do other things to focus on their self-care, everything from talk to loved ones more to work in the garden to go for a walk.
The latter two options are especially useful as they provide physical activity, a big part of self-care: exercise engages the brain, helps the muscles and provides endorphins which help the brain and body feel better.
Why it’s smart
Self-care has some parallels with palliative care, a medical approach where providers and other medical personnel focus primarily on providing relief to a patient from the symptoms and stress of a health condition, not just treating the condition only. This contrasts with some past medical practices, where providers sometimes pushed clients hard to undergo risky or painful tests and procedures in the hopes of fixing that particular problem.
While these practices had some value to overall medical research and often were done with the goal of prolonging someone’s life, they sometimes came with lifestyle restrictions, kept someone in a hospital and away from their families for longer than necessary, and negatively impacted their quality of life.
Instead, under a palliative care approach, providers remain aware of factors like pain levels, depression, fatigue, sleep needs and anxiety all in mind, rather than focusing only on the prime health condition. They also may be allowed to remain at home although they can have home health care or require a caregiver.
In some cases, removing the stresses and other anxieties and inviting a patient into their own health equation to focus on getting better rather than undergoing more pain can actually improve their lives or at least provide time to learn how to adjust and adapt. In other cases, palliative care can transition into hospice care, where similar approaches to pain management and acknowledgment of the importance of self-care are welcomed.
Celebrate in July
Although self-care can and should be practiced at any time, the team at Accredited Home Care invites people to use the month of July to learn more and perhaps try more methods.
July 24 is considered International Self-Care Day, a global effort recognized by the United Nations to recognize the value of self-care and encourage people to take steps to do whatever they can to feel better and support and encourage others to do the same.
The International Self-Care Foundation reports that some communities hold seminars and public health programs, some have community events and athletic activities while others hold flash mobs.
For more suggestions on ways to learn to focus on self-care or other home health care suggestions, visit Accredited Home Care.