For Seniors, Good Health is a Team Effort
What does it mean to be healthy? Depending on whom you ask, you may get different answers, but being free from illness and disease will likely be a top response. Health has many dimensions though, and for seniors especially, it’s helpful to look at it as a web of interconnected factors that all influence one another.
The World Health Organization now defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” All three dimensions of health – physical, mental and social – are interdependent. This idea has been around for thousands of years, but science now confirms it. Mental and social health challenges can exacerbate or lead to physical illness; likewise, chronic physical illness can lead to mental health issues and social isolation.
According to the CDC, precisely measuring the impact of social isolation is difficult, “but there is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk.” The challenges of 2020 only made this worse, as millions of seniors found themselves more isolated than ever, with the constant threat of COVID-19 adding a new layer of stress to the equation.
Several studieshave shown links between increased levels of social support and reduced risk for physical disease, mental illness and mortality. Social support includes connections that make a person feel cared for, valued and part of a group. This can be critical forseniorswho rely on family, friends or community organizations to assist them with daily activities, provide companionship and care for their well-being.
Now more than ever, professionals are recognizing the importance of caring for all aspects of senior wellness, because problems in one area of life can quickly ripple across others. This includes monitoring a person’s physical, social and mental wellness, food and housing security, financial stability, family relationships and other health determinants.
Forward-thinking clinicians are also working with seniors to connect them with community organizations that address those needs and then track health outcomes. What they’re finding, according to the National Academy of Medicine, is that “health equity, racial disparities and social determinants…account for 80 percent of a person’s overall health.”
CenterWell Senior Primary Carehas developed a holistic approach to senior-focused primary care, offering a complete Care Team that supports seniors – body, mind and spirit – so they can live happier, healthier lives. CenterWell’s Care Team includes doctors, care coaches, behavioral health specialists, clinical pharmacists and other professionals.
CenterWell also employs a team of Community Engagement Managers (CEM). Stress and need have real health consequences, and the CEM team’s job is to connect local seniors with everything from food, shelter and financial assistance, to help understanding Medicare, paying for prescription drugs and more.
Here in Houston, the CEM team is led by Bob Callahan. He works day in and day out to ensure that any senior who contacts him receives the help and support they need – and not just CenterWell patients. Any local senior who needs help can reach out.
If you or someone you know is Medicare-eligible and searching for a better approach to primary care, stop by any CenterWelllocation today to meet the team and take a tour. Right now, our Activity Centers are re-opening with COVID-19 prevention standards in place, allowing seniors in the community to reengage in educational and social activities.
And if you know a Houston-area senior who needs immediate help with food, housing, medicine or anything that impacts their physical, mental or social health, Bob and his team are here to assist. You may reach Bob directly at 409-255-0600.