Healthcare is about much more than simply going to the doctor or relying on medical advice, treatments, and procedures from professionals. Consumers of healthcare today are much more empowered and aware. They are taking charge of their own lifestyles, determining how diet, nutrition, exercise, and a more holistic approach can benefit health and well-being.

People are also more aware of the roles that healthcare professionals play and the rights they have to demand the best care. Technology is infiltrating all areas of our lives, making things more efficient, but also posing privacy risks, and this includes in healthcare. Caring for oneself and making sure that dependent loved ones are getting good care requires more than just trusting in medical professionals. All healthcare consumers need to be more educated, aware, and willing to insist on being a part of their own care.

Proactive Healthcare – Diet and Fitness

More than ever before people understand how important it is to be proactive about good health. Not everyone puts this into practice, but it is now commonly known that eating well, getting adequate nutrition, and being fit and active all promote good health and lower the risk of many diseases.

A good diet means getting adequate amounts of macronutrients, like protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as a balance of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, eating well means avoiding foods that negatively impact health, including trans and saturated fats, overly processed foods, processed grains, added sugar, and added salt. A balanced and nutritious diet includes a wide variety of whole foods.

A balance of exercise and physical activity are also important for promoting good health, including aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and balance and flexibility training. The government recommends that most adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise as well as at least two strength training sessions. Regular exercise promotes healthy weight, helps combat disease and chronic illness, improves energy and sleep, and boosts mood.

Moving toward More Holistic Care

More people are also realizing that diet and fitness are part of an overall holistic approach to healthcare that is more beneficial than the traditional approach to health. Traditional western medicine treats illnesses as they arise and in isolation. Holistic medicine is an approach that treats the whole person and instead of treating an illness or its symptoms, looks for and manages underlying causes of illness.

Preventative health is important in holistic healthcare, which is why diet and exercise are a part of the philosophy. Also important in a holistic lifestyle is being mindful, which can include meditation, yoga, or similar practices. Finding a balance between work and the rest of life, being social and making connections with others, and being connected to the environment are also important.

Some people are even beginning to turn to holistic practitioners instead of traditional medicine. These medical professionals believe in finding a balance between a patient’s mind, body, and spirit to achieve maximum wellness and in treating underlying causes of illness, which may at first seem totally unrelated.

Transitioning from In-Home to Residential Care

A difficult aspect of modern healthcare is helping to manage wellness for older or disabled family members. There are a lot of options, including in-home care to help people who struggle with independence stay at home as long as possible. With elderly patients especially, there comes a time when living at home is no longer feasible, and a transition to assisted living or nursing home care has to be made.

This is difficult for the patient and for the loved ones caring for them, as it is a hard decision to make and a challenging transition. Family members can ease the transition by making their loved ones a part of the decision-making process, giving them options, preparing well in advance, and spending time visiting once they have moved. When a loved one has transitioned to residential care, it is important to be engaged with the staff, to ask questions, to monitor care, and to intervene if someone is not getting the best care.

Working with Healthcare Providers

In all areas of healthcare patients have to work with nurses, doctors, specialists, administrators, technicians, and other professionals. The relationships between patients and these caregivers are unique and different from other types of professional relationships. Patients are reliant on and must trust their caregivers, but they also need to be informed and able to make decisions with the advice of caregivers.

The working relationship can be tricky, but with good communication, by staying informed and getting questions answered, by treating people respectfully but still demanding good care and respect in return, it is possible to work well with and get the most out of working with doctors and others. When representing a dependent loved one it is especially important to be an advocate when working with healthcare providers.

Technology is Changing Healthcare

Healthcare has evolved in many ways over the years, but the integration of technology may be the biggest change that has the most impact. Digital medical records, for instance, have streamlined record keeping on patients and has made communication between different medical professionals much easier. This has great benefits for healthcare consumers who get better care with greater communication, but privacy of personal information is always a concern.

Patients are also benefiting from other technological advancements in healthcare. Patient portals, for instance, allow patients to get better access to their own healthcare information, making them more informed and autonomous. Telehealth is on the rise, giving greater access to healthcare. And wearable healthcare devices are helping patients take their own health measures and share them with physicians.

The Shifting Culture of Healthcare

With all these changes going on in healthcare it is no surprise that the culture of modern medicine is not what it used to be. Traditionally medicine has been a paternalistic type of culture, in which patients were expected to take a doctor’s advice and were not given the information that would help them make their own decisions. Today, patients are more involved and autonomous, and doctors give their patients all the information, plus advice, and allow individuals to make healthcare choices for themselves.

Additionally, the culture of healthcare today is shifting in other ways. It is becoming more patient-centered, with more of a focus on putting the patient first in most decisions. It is also becoming more focused on safety, with changing policies to make patients safer. Finally, healthcare culture is shifting toward greater collaboration, with doctors, nurses, and others working together to give patients the best possible care. Culture is difficult to change, but it is shifting and in ways that are better for patients.

Healthcare is an important part of every person’s life. Some people interact with healthcare more than others, but it is something that none of us can avoid forever. In order to operate within today’s healthcare and to get the best care, it is important for every individual to be empowered to take part in it. This means learning more about how healthcare works, understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle, working well with care providers, taking advantage of technology, and insisting on being treated respectfully and on being a part of healthcare decision making.