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How Person-Centered Care Affects Seniors

Person-centered care entered the healthcare lexicon at the start of this millennium when the Institute of Medicine named it a top healthcare priority for the 21st century.

The concept picked up steam a decade later as patient-centeredness became a focus of the Affordable Care Act

 We’re demystifying this healthcare jargon and explaining how it affects your aging loved one.

What is person-centered care?

The concept of person-centered care, or patient-centered care, takes a holistic approach to wellness. 

Medicine has traditionally focused on treating illnesses in a silo, rather than caring for the whole individual. In this model of care, if your elderly mother falls and breaks a bone, she would see an orthopedist who would treat the break. Once the bone has healed, the doctor’s work is done.

In the person-centered care approach, doctors don’t treat just one medical problem, but are also responsible for identifying and solving overarching issues that affect the patient’s health. Let’s examine how your elderly mother who has fallen would be treated in a person-centered model of care. Beyond treating the broken bone, her orthopedist would find out what caused the fall to prevent it from happening again. Does your mother struggle to walk down her stairs because of a bad knee? The doctor would recommend installing a stair lift in your mother’s home.

How is person-centered care beneficial to senior citizens?

In the person-centered care approach to wellness, the patient (a senior citizen in this case), their caretaker, and doctors are members of a team who work together to find the best long term care solutions for the patient. Doctors and healthcare providers communicate with patients and caretakers to bring transparency into the confusing medical process.

Person-centered care would benefit nursing home residents. Primary care doctors would collaborate with specialists and caretakers to create holistic care plans, rather than to just prescribe pills or treat individual problems without regard for the bigger picture.

When the person, and not the illness or the bureaucracy, are at the center of healthcare, everyone wins.

How has the shift towards person-centered care affected how you care for your aging loved one?