‘Quality of life’ might be one of those terms that you only know when you see it or feel it. Or maybe, residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere might notice the lack of it if they’re ever in a situation or location where they’re unhappy, scared, anxious or simply bored, such as end of life care.
These types of unpleasant situations are possible in an environment where quality of life isn’t a priority. Likewise, as the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care can tell you, places or conditions where quality of life is a prime focus will likely result in people being content, stimulated, secure and in a better position to enjoy their surroundings.
This could be an assisted living situation, where the staff works to make sure residents are always treated well. Or it could be a home health care situation, where caregivers place a strong focus on creating opportunities for patients to stay in good spirits in their own homes as long as they can.
So with all of this interest in quality of life, how do you actually define it? The answer is simple yet complicated, and there’s a term for that too: multidimensional.
In this context, the Centers for Disease Control says quality of life can be defined differently by different groups, individuals and situations.
Generally, it can apply to anything that provides positive benefits to someone’s life, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, financial, even spiritual.
How these benefits are achieved can depend on all sorts of factors, from someone’s physical surroundings to what they do for fun.
Quality of life for seniors
In medicine, quality of life is a relatively new approach. Traditionally, health care providers used to focus mostly on the outcome. Can someone be cured of whatever they’re battling? Can whatever disease they have be reversed?
If the answer was no, then either another solution was attempted, no matter how painful, experimental, expensive, or the patient was essentially left alone.
But when quality of life is a focus, some of the poking and testing is minimized. Patients may be sent home instead of remaining at the hospital for more painful procedures.
Hospice services may be made available, and a patient may be prescribed medication for pain management, rather than treatment of whatever conditions they may be diagnosed with. This can result in a more positive experience for the patient and the people around them.
They will be able to approach their final days with less pain in their own setting, instead of in a hospital.
Officials who study quality of life use it as a starting place to measure different positive and negative aspects of people’s lives, and society in general.
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, part of Health and Human Services, examines the areas of physical, mental emotional and social functioning. All of these can lead up to general positive emotions and life satisfaction.
People whose job it is to evaluate quality of life in different demographic and social groups may look at the impact that various health conditions can have on them. For instance, chronic illness, medical treatments, and various disabilities all can impact quality of life.
Patients asked to participate in this data gathering may be asked to share all sorts of details about their current physical, mental and emotional health. They also may be asked about their social activities as well.
Certainly a senior may have different quality of life concerns than someone younger. They may have higher levels of pain and fatigue. They may have more worries about their immediate future and possibly may feel a strong loss if more people around them have died recently.
At the same time, they may have some other positive feelings. They could be retired from work and have less stress. They could be able to spend more time with their children or grandchildren.
Even if there are health concerns, they may still have a good attitude about life, which can be vital in how they handle what still will come at them.
Feelings of control
One study of seniors shared by ScienceDirect shared that a lot of factors can go into an individual’s quality of life.
Based on interviews with 12 women between 63 and 92, common ingredients for quality of life include health, inner life, and behavior abilities. Staying active, having social connections and social roles, and taking steps to help one’s health can all combine to boost quality of life.
While every person’s environment and social situation differs, being able to adapt mentally and physically can go a long way in achieving a higher quality of life. Essentially, having control over one’s life and trying to adapt well to whatever comes your way is vital.
Everyone can help
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is excited to help patients focus on improving their personal quality of life and taking steps to look for minor and major ways to make a difference.
January is considered International Quality of Life Month and an opportunity to focus more on these areas.
Our staff encourages patients to look inward as well as outward. We also try to do our part to help people find the positive, whether they simply need a little more help with day-to-day tasks or they’re receiving end of life care.