Medical care is often portrayed on television and in the movies as being heroic and fast. Patients are rushed into the emergency room, operated on almost immediately and somehow manage to survive their ordeal in “better shape” than they were when it all began.
But can this fast-based approach always benefit the elderly? Some physicians are claiming that it does not, and they are advocating what has come to be called ”slow medicine.”
Whenever possible, slow medicine replaces technology with careful observations plus hands on care. A patient “wait and see” attitude is strongly recommended.
Rather than relying upon specialists, slow medicine envelopes elders within a circle of love as it embraces “the unsung work of daily attention that is the greatest need and firmest foundation for longevity and quality of life at the furthest reaches of age.”
And members of this circle are encouraged to take an active role in their loved one’s medical care, asking doctors hard questions: Is the medication you prescribed absolutely necessary? Is this procedure likely to benefit my mother, considering her advanced age
“Doctors sometimes fail to take into account how things are different with older people, how their bodies work differently,” Dr. McCullough, author of My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing “Slow Medicine,” The Compassionate Approach To Caring for Your Aging Loved One, said. “They might say, ‘Your mother’s blood sugar level is elevated. She has diabetes.’ when actually her blood sugar is at a level you might expect from somebody her age. You have to ask and find out about these things.”
Dr. McCullough also suggests going beyond what you learn from a doctor or other medical professional and educating yourself about your elder’s physical conditions, with web sites being a valuable resource.
For more information about slow medicine and about aging in general, read Rounding the Circle of Love: Growing Up As She Grows Old; this post is an excerpt from that volume. It is being sold through Amazon.