Is self-care the new healthcare?

Being a team member.

Self care word cloud
Photo by via Flickr

Whether you realize it or not, you have become a very valuable member of your health care provider’s team. They want YOU. But why? Generally speaking, it takes a team of people to supply quality health care. Health care providers already understand this.

In today’s complicated and ever-changing view of health care, one thing is clear: We need to understand how self-care (self-management) helps us achieve better health. Most health care providers would agree that patients benefit from both a health care and self-care approach to quality care.

Tips towards better self-care

  • Ironically, one of the best steps in self-care is to include a team approach. Widen your care circle. Social workers, therapist, dentists, home care nurses, dietitians, physical therapists and physician assistants are just a few of the health care professionals that can help you self-manage. 
  • Do not go it alone. Find support. Self-care is not a singular approach; it is about boosting your care circle. For those living with chronic conditions teaming up with your provider and all the support services they offer is one of the best ways to keep your illness managed.
  • Self-care includes smart communication. Stay compliant with your health care team’s directives. Report back. It is alright to tell them something did or did not work for you. 
  • Keep and maintain your health care appointments. Use your primary physician’s office instead of emergency rooms visits when possible.
  • Self-care includes lifestyle adaptions like physical and mental practices. Daily physical activity, good nutrition and mindfulness support better health.
  • You cannot be your own best health expert if you do not know your numbers. Get annual exams to find out your Body Mass Index, cholesterol, lipids and other common panel screenings.

Include healthcare for better self-care

  • Sign up for electronic health records. This is a new and growing option for better care information. Many providers utilize this approach making it easier to communicate.
  • If you need to enhance your care support, ask your health care provider about including registered dietitians, care managers, diabetes care and education specialists.
  • Practice good mental health. Familiarize yourself with mental health services and options at work or in your community. If this is new to you start at your comfort level. Options are numerous.

Self-care means you are taking control of your health management. As we experience changes in our health over time, our responsibility for self-care is imperative. The best way to achieve optimum self-care is not to do it alone. Widen your circle of support by incorporating both professionals and community partners.

Michigan State University Extension provides health and nutrition related workshops on becoming better self-managers. For more information on chronic illness and self-management, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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