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Be the CEO of Your Health Care

Manage your health care

Aging can be associated with limitations and a loss of independence. That’s why I’m thrilled to witness an empowering movement in senior health care in which patients play more active roles to improve medical conditions and truly take control of their own destinies.

Senior health care doesn’t have to be a matter of strictly following doctor’s orders. In fact, when patients set specific goals, overcome obstacles and meet objectives, it can be a powerful experience, beneficial to both their confidence and health. 

By taking ownership of one’s health care, whether it’s learning to cope with a medical condition or trying new strategies to improve one, patients become the CEO of their care, invested and committed to the most important business – their health.

Many seniors struggle with chronic diseases, meaning conditions that last a year or more, limit what you can do, and may require ongoing treatment. Seventy-five percent of adults over 65 have at least one and the average 75-year-old has three chronic conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease or diabetes. Evidence based practices, which are proven through scientific research and offered extensively at HSL communities, have shown tremendous improvements for many seniors in their chronic disease management. These types of programs are critical to senior health care because they promote the patient’s central role in managing their own health.

Within HSL communities, evidence-based practices focus on setting goals and developing specific action plans, which are important steps in chronic disease management. For example, seniors participating in the Diabetes Self Management Program learn techniques to maintain healthy blood sugar and specific strategies to deal with symptoms.

Whether the programs focus on nutrition, exercise or specific chronic diseases, they all provide opportunities for patients to practice new skills that they can utilize on their own, promoting independence and a sense of ownership for their health care. And the resonating theme behind these evidence-based practices is equally important – health promotion rather than a focus on illness and disability.

While I admire seniors who take charge of their own health care, I also encourage them to work with their health care providers, updating them on progress made and working together to find answers when things aren’t going smoothly. Strong communication with your doctor is one of the many ways to be a productive and successful CEO of your own health care. 

Learn more about Hebrew SeniorLife’s evidence-based practices here.

Robert Schreiber, M.D.'s picture

About the Blogger

Medical Director of Outpatient Primary Care Practice, Community-Based Programs, Innovation and Development

Robert Schreiber, M.D., provides oversight of the Hebrew SeniorLife Medical Group, which offers primary and specialty care services to older adults. He is also involved in promoting new initiatives, including new models of care at HSL's long-term care facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and senior housing sites. Prior to joining HSL, Dr. Schreiber served as chairman of geriatrics at Lahey Clinic and held leadership positions at several Boston area long-term care facilities. He is board certified...

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I have had three wonderful doctors in my nomadic life and felt sorry to leave them behind when I moved on. Now at age 86 I have a number of autoimmune diseases. The most serious, I think, is autoimmune hepatitis. I feel lucky to have found a specialist who has agreed to follow me with three lab reports until July while I try a triple antioxident treatment that has been used for 30 years with good results. I guess I am a "CEO" with a good relationship with my doctor. I'm just starting out on this effort, so I can't report on my progress yet, but I'm glad that I'll be watched over and warned if I'm not getting good results.

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