Slow medicine goes against the grain in this fast-paced culture. With people’s expectations of immediate answers to anything and everything, and pharmacology and medical technologies that promise the moon, it’s no wonder that healthcare decisions are often made in haste and with a bias toward taking action. Even if there is no cause for urgency, families may find it hard to take a step back. To thoughtfully consider the options. To resist moving forward with treatments, devices, and procedures. To. Slow. Down.
The concept of slow medicine was introduced by Dr. Alberto Dolara in a 2002 Italian cardiology journal. Others have since written books and hosted radio programs about the topic. Dr. Dennis McCullough applied slow medicine to geriatric medicine in his 2008 book “My Mother, Your Mother.” Focusing on adults eighty years of age and older, McCullough makes the case for thoughtful, balanced and compassionate care that takes into consideration the person’s wishes, quality of life, and the consequences of aggressive medical interventions. Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal” is a similar call to a philosophy that puts a greater emphasis on well-being and a sense of purpose at the end of life.
Care managers and other professionals who work with families and their medical providers can educate and reinforce that slow medicine may be the most beneficial strategy for older adults. This is not to say that advanced treatments are bad or inappropriate, but that choices always exist and should be presented as options. Quality of life and length of life are two different things. Excessive testing, surgeries, and invasive procedures may extend the life of a terminally ill person, for example, but also result in physical and mental debilitation.
Slow medicine means carefully evaluating medical interventions, offering emotional support to the person and his/her family, and working with healthcare providers to focus on quality of care and quality of life. Helping families understand they can make thoughtful decisions, without the pressure of “treatment at all costs” can be an enormous relief for all involved.
The professional care managers at arrangeCARE specialize in looking at the medical care their clients are receiving and help figure out the best care options for the client’s needs. If you are in the Austin, Texas area and you need professionals on your side, please contact us now at 512-814-3228 or info@arrangeCARE.com.