Do you remember hearing the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” or “laughter is the best medicine”? These are common sayings we don’t take much stake in. They are also oversimplifications, certainly, but at the core, have the same basic and very important principle: preventative care.

Preventative care is the key when it comes to our well-being. It reduces health care costs and optimizes the whole health of individuals and communities. Eating right and exercising prevents, and combats, many diseases, including cardiac disease, diabetes, and obesity and its many complications. Waiting until something major happens or until we are diagnosed with a disease, puts us one step behind. And while there are still many actions that can be taken once diagnosed, it comes at a much greater cost to the healthcare system, and more importantly, to our personal health.

As we age, our bodies deteriorate, making it more likely that we develop diseases and associated complications.  It is crucial that at every point of care provided, we attempt to minimize or prevent these complications. Education by healthcare providers on current diseases and the prevention of known complications is important to promote positive health outcomes and decrease the number of crisis moments where hospitalization may be necessary. All diagnoses and how to care for them should be reviewed at each doctors visit, rehabilitation, or hospital stay, in order to review, reiterate, and clarify important health information. The number of doctors and medications also tends to increase with age. Due to different healthcare systems, these doctors are often not directly in communication with one another, increasing the potential for oversights with care. For this reason, checking medication lists for duplication of therapy, or interactions between medications, is so important to do at every instance of care provided. In order to ensure everything is captured, and to make sure patients fully understand when to take their medications, and why they are on them, the patient must also be involved in the medication reconciliation at every point of care.

Preventative care is not viewed as glorious. In fact, it is sometimes even seen as pointless, tedious, and unnecessary. “I’ve heard that a thousand times”. “I’ve already gone over the medications”. These may be common words and feelings, but it is the seemingly small things that make the biggest difference. Providing education on prevention and taking the time and steps to ensure we are looking at the whole person every time leads to the best health outcomes for all.

This blog is courtesy of Laura Mullen, RN, Director of Nursing at the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home in Chelsea, MA.