Findings from a recent study in Health Affairs suggest that care professionals who ask for and use patient input for care plans contribute to better health and decreased feelings of depression in their older patients (2016. 35(9):1558-1563).

The study investigated 234 adults older than 65 who participated in the Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) program, which aims to reduce the impact of disability among low-income older adults by addressing individual capacities and their home environment. The program centers on two concepts:  that environment influences health and that seniors should set goals to improve their health. CAPABLE was created by Sarah Szanton PhD, ANP, FAAN, who also served as lead investigator of the study.

For five months, participants were each paired with a team that included an occupational therapist, who made six visits; a registered nurse, who made four; and a handyman, who worked a full day at the person’s home installing assistive devices and doing various repairs. The assigned nurses and therapists helped participants identify three achievable goals for each member of the team as well as barriers that needed to be overcome. A significant strategy the teams used was to simply listen to what seniors thought their biggest care issues were and then make plans based on those conversations. Therapists were careful not to dictate health goals to patients.

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