8 Benefits of Holistic Primary Care for Seniors

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older woman experiencing holistic primary care for seniors and smiling
June 27, 2024

Holistic health is more than just taking care of your physical being — it is about feeling supported, valued, and truly alive. Instead of treating symptoms, holistic primary care pays careful attention to the health of all parts of you. This is especially imperative for seniors, who often face mental and emotional health issues due to an increase in physical health issues. Holistic primary care honors the individuality of every senior’s health, providing them with the care they deserve to nourish their mind, body, and soul. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Holistic Primary Care?

Have you ever felt like you are only seen for your health ailments, and not for the whole person you are? This feeling is the difference between primary care and holistic primary care. Regular primary care helps you understand, manage, and treat your physical health conditions but seldom focuses on the effects your condition may have on your mental and emotional health, or how these parts of your health impact your life in general. Holistic primary care, on the other hand, has a focus on the whole person. 

What does this mean, exactly? Instead of only focusing on treating physical health conditions, holistic primary care looks at your physical health, emotions, lifestyle, and environment to help make informed decisions on keeping you healthy and happy. Instead of taking care of problems as they arise, holistic primary care aims to prevent issues before they begin and help you live the best life you possibly can, in all areas. It is like having a mentor and friend cheering you on, making sure you are not only surviving but are truly thriving! 

It is important to note a common misconception that holistic medicine and herbal medicine equate to one another — this is not true. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, herbal medicine or remedies refer to replacing modern medicine with herbs, botanicals, or detoxes [1]. Although holistic primary care physicians may incorporate some natural remedies, this is not all that holistic care is. Holistic primary care encompasses so much more than this and targets more parts of the individual, which is vital to understand when considering holistic primary care. 

The Core Principles of Holistic Primary Care

Holistic primary care centers around a handful of core principles, including: 

  • Prevention: Instead of waiting for health issues to arise to start treating them, holistic primary care focuses on preventing ailments before they have a chance to show up. To take preventive measures, holistic primary care implements this through preventive screenings, regular check-ups, and health education.
  • Patient-Centered Care: In holistic primary care, patients aren’t just told what to do about their health and aren’t expected to listen without question. Instead, they are active participants in their health journey. Providers listen to their concerns, answer questions, and take their preferences and goals seriously when creating a health plan and making important decisions. This often results in higher patient satisfaction and positive attitudes towards primary care [2]. 
  • Multiple Facets of Health: Holistic primary care does not view health as simply physical health. It involves the whole person and considers the many facets of health, including physical, mental, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and environmental factors. By understanding a patient’s entire health, the healthcare provider can make more informed decisions based on their unique needs. 
  • Integration of Modalities: Holistic primary care combines conventional medicine with alternative and novel therapies, which are constantly evolving and improving as the years go by. For example, healthcare physicians who practice holistic primary care may recommend acupuncture, nutrition counseling, or meditation based on a patient’s specific needs and concerns [3]. 

The Benefits of Holistic Primary Care for Seniors

There are many benefits of holistic primary care for seniors, including but not limited to: 

  • Empowerment: By helping patients understand their needs and giving them an active role in their healthcare journey, holistic primary care providers give patients a sense of empowerment and confidence. Patients can feel sure that they have full control over their health with holistic primary care. 
  • Strong Relationship Between Patient and Provider: Patients are more likely to trust and enjoy the time spent with their primary care provider when the provider establishes active communication and takes the patient’s needs into account when making decisions. This increases a patient’s satisfaction with their care and improves their willingness to make regular appointments because they feel their provider has their best interest in mind for their overall health. 
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Implementing preventive measures and addressing health concerns and dangers early makes holistic care cost-effective. By taking precautions and reducing the risk of developing serious health conditions, patients may avoid having to pay high prices for treatments and hospitalizations in the future [4]. 

Comprehensive Approach to Health

Holistic health and primary care encompasses multiple facets of health, including: 

  • Physical Health: This part of your overall health involves anything that has to do with the effective functionality of your body. This includes the health of all your bodily systems, such as the circulatory, cardiovascular, skeletal, renal, nervous, digestive, and immune systems. 
  • Mental Health: This part of health pertains to your psychological well-being, influencing how you think, feel, and behave in everyday life. This involves the potential presence of mental disorders, how you deal with stress, and how you perceive the world. 
  • Emotional Health: This part of your health is characterized by how well you manage your emotions, cope with negative feelings, and maintain a positive outlook on life. It involves being aware of your emotions and expressing them healthily. 
  • Spiritual Health: This part of your health refers to your sense of purpose, meaning, and connection to something larger than yourself. This could mean religious faith for some, but can also pertain to personal values or a connection with nature and humanity. 
  • Social Health: Finally, this part of your overall health has to do with the quality of your relationships with those around you, your interactions, and your sense of belonging to a community. 

Personalized Care Plans

Holistic primary care physicians work hard to create care plans tailored to each patient’s specific needs. For example, if a senior patient has had a history of joint pain and trouble with mobility, their physician may recommend a regimen of light physical exercises and weekly visits to a physical therapist to maintain this area of their health and reduce the risk of these pains developing into something harder to treat. They may recommend another patient who has reported feeling lonely lately to attend some community events or join a club at their local YMCA. And, they may advise another patient who finds themselves getting agitated and crying often to seek help from a mental health therapist. Notice how these care plans are all different because they target personal areas of a person’s health that may be at risk. This is what holistic primary care is all about—individual needs, goals, and preferences. 

It is important that patients feel educated and inclined to speak up if they don’t feel comfortable with a certain health decision their primary care doctor makes. For example, if a doctor recommends a medication for pre-diabetes, but the patient feels strongly against it, the doctor and the patient as a team may make a plan for the patient to try a strict healthy diet and check in after a few weeks to see if symptoms decreased. This way, the patient’s health is being taken care of while still having them be an active decision maker in their health journey. 

Preventive Care and Disease Management

Holistic health focuses deeply on preventative care and disease management to promote wellness, longevity, and quality of life. This means that patients will be encouraged to make regular check-ups and health screening appointments to catch any potential illnesses early. This also encompasses managing chronic conditions effectively, often with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. 

Coordination of Care

Holistic primary care ensures quality coordination of care, which means there is seamless communication between the patient and their healthcare provider[s]. This coordination extends beyond their primary care physician. Primary care physicians will assess their patient’s needs and coordinate a care plan with other specialists, such as physical therapists, mental health counselors, optometrists, cardiologists, and more, to ensure that their patient receives the specialized care they need. 

The primary care physician will act as the central point of contact, overseeing their patient’s treatment plan and collaborating with specialists in their network. Patients can expect to receive regular updates about their care and be actively involved in decision-making regarding their treatment. 

This process assures patients that there will be no fragmentation in their healthcare delivery, allowing them to be confident in their healthcare system.  

Lifestyle Management and Education

Because holistic primary care looks beyond the realm of physical health and into the various parts of a person’s overall well-being, patients will gain knowledge on healthy habits and behaviors through their appointments. Holistic primary care physicians are trained to provide educated insight into the behaviors and practices their patients should perform to optimize their health. They will also champion seniors to take control of their health, confirming that they can make changes to their lifestyle that can positively impact their well-being. 

One of the most important practices that holistic primary care physicians provide is resources for self-care and self-management. Seniors will learn about all the possibilities of treatments for their condition so that they can learn how to manage their condition on their own (of course, with supervision from their primary care provider.) This gives seniors a sense of autonomy and control over their bodies. These resources include written pamphlets, health coaching, self-tracking tools, and/or wellness classes. 

Emotional and Mental Health Support

Although the media often paints being a senior citizen as a stress-free time where seniors can relax and feel content with their lives, this is not the case for all. In reality, many seniors face mental health concerns stemming from loneliness and isolation, a perceived lack of purpose, the death of family and/or friends, and health-related stress [5]. 

These mental health concerns can be effectively managed with proper treatment recommendations, such as therapy, medication, and positive support systems. Mental and emotional support is vital for overall health, which is why this is an important pillar of holistic primary care. 

Holistic Primary Care Physicians for Seniors at Greater Good

Greater Good Health commits to providing quality holistic primary care for all seniors. Our holistic primary care physicians offer specialized services to seniors, ensuring that they receive the personal care they deserve. Contact us today to learn more about holistic primary care at Greater Good Health!