Today is the era of do-it-yourself, in which most people wish to understand things themselves and do it personally. They want to master the art of preparing and developing things on their own and put their skills to test. In healthcare world too, patients are now more interested in understanding about their medical conditions and almost everything related to it. Self-care is an important part in healthcare, which if the patient understands and gets trained can help in every way.
What is self-care?
Self-care, commonly called as self-management is related to the care that patients require to take for themselves. Medical and healthcare field involves great efforts on the part of the medical and para medical team. But much success also depends on patient’s awareness, their interest in self-care and their ability to take care of themselves.
Every medical condition has causative factors or triggering factors. Apart from finding and treating the cause, there are trigger factors or aggravating conditions, which need to be managed well. Almost every condition has some aspect, which when controlled by the patient, can help in better management of the illness and preventing further damage. Patient education plays an important role in developing patient’s awareness and understanding about self-care.
Patient Self-care activities
Self-care activities include all those activities, which a person normally does to remain healthy and prevent diseases. This ranges from brushing teeth, washing hands well, having a bath, etc. activities of personal hygiene.
In addition, when there is a particular medical problem, special attention may be needed while taking care of oneself, which the patient needs to understand. Self-care is all about the patient taking of themselves, keeping in view their existing medical condition and the possible complications.
Some factors that normally aggravate or affect patient improvement include diet and lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking, faulty dietary or sleeping habits, inactivity or lack of proper exercise, excess physical activity and overuse, exposure to certain allergens or pollutants, etc. Surgical procedures too have particular instructions for self-care, before and after the surgery. Lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, heart disorders, etc. need a systematic approach related to food, exercise and some lifestyle modifications may be required. Some conditions that have only palliative treatment, live-with-it conditions and end-stage diseases usually need patient compliance for self-care.
An arthritis patient needs to know how to avoid overuse of joints or importance of weight loss. A patient with back pain needs to know the correct ways of lifting weights, sitting and sleeping postures, etc.
Benefits of patient self-care
Patients educated in self-care act as good and responsive patients. Self-care helps to modify patient behaviours and can help in preventing diseases and promoting good health. When patients become aware of their medical illnesses, they begin to take the responsibility and try to work towards maintaining a healthy life. This helps to improve patient’s co-operation, ensuring better compliance and keeps the situation hopeful and positive.
Some benefits of patient self-care include :
Improvement in health
When patients are actively involved in self-care activities, it helps to maintain their emotional strength and boosts immunity. It helps in completing the treatment course, regularly following up and thus adds to improved health. It helps to reduce anxiety, stress and depression, which normally create hindrance in patient improvement.
Self-care patients, who are aware of the consequences are more likely to follow preventive health practices, timely check-ups, vacations and make healthier choices. It helps to manage disease better, prevent complications and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs.
Increase patient awareness
With patient education, details about medical conditions and the related self-care activities can be taught to the patient and the caretakers for health awareness. Patients engaged in self-care are more inclined to be aware and alert regarding the warning signs and may seek medical advice at the earliest in case of emergency.
Better patient outcomes
Along with medical treatment, patient self-care can help in keeping unwanted behaviours and practices at bay, thus increasing the success rates of treatment. Willing and thoughtful patient self-care is often associated with better patient outcome and can improve chances of complete recovery.
Making informed decisions
Patients engaged in self-care are more actively involved in decision making and make every attempt to seek best care and co-operate to the best of their abilities.
Patient self-care gives patients the feeling of being independent in spite of being under treatment. It helps to build their self-esteem and works in a positive way to keep the patient working towards a healthier life. It improves patient satisfaction with their own self, the doctors, medical team and the healthcare system as a whole.
Hence, it is believed that patients who are involved in self-care, help to maintain health and work in conjunction to medical treatment, thus improving the overall healthcare outcome.
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