Five Levels of Self Care: Does Your Level Benefit You?

Self-care is a common sense approach to well-being where each of us takes, as much as possible, responsibility for our health.

Though degrees of self-care can be defined many ways, nutritionist and wellness consultant Charles K. Bens, Ph.D. describes five self-care levels that provide an interesting view of the different ways people relate with their physicians.

An awareness of these self-care levels may help each of us determine whether our current interface with medical providers supports our health needs, and longterm goals.

Five Self-Care Levels

Bens point out that his five self-care levels are a starting point for assessing degree of personal responsibility, and that his definitions are not comprehensive, nor meant to be rigid. People may move from one category to another over time or use different self-care approaches for different situations:

    1. Passive. At this level of self-care people tend to follow their medical provider’s advice, asking general questions about their diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

    2. Curious. The curious level of self-care is often sparked by receiving a serious health diagnosis. Curious people will get a second or third opinion if they are not satisfied with a physician’s response to their questions, or if they hope to find a more palatable treatment option than the one offered. Some patients may inquire about alternative or complementary treatments, but unless the doctor supports these measures, they are usually not pursued.

    3. Inquiring. The inquiring level of self-care is similar to the curious level, except inquirers do some research to prepare more pertinent or in-depth questions, particularly for physicians offering second or third opinions. Inquiring individuals may also investigate alternative and complementary treatments, but typically do not insist on their use if it’s discouraged by the physician.

    4. Consultative. Regular proactive preventive measures, and patient-physician dialogs on illness prevention and treatment, are hallmarks of consultative self-care. Consultative individuals often work with both conventional and alternative medical practitioners, or see a doctor who embraces both modalities.

    5. Assertive. At the assertive self-care level people are highly engaged in daily preventative measures, and may regularly consult with alternative, or holistic health practitioners. In medical emergencies, these individuals might utilize the services of conventional medicine, but for chronic illness prefer alternative practitioners and solutions. Some assertive self-care individuals become obsessive about their diet, supplements, or exercise routines.

These different self-care levels do not call into question the competency of our doctors. What most distinguishes the upper self-care levels from the passive and curious categories is an increasing focus on patient knowledge and active illness prevention—which includes preventing or slowing the progression of symptoms in diseases such as diabetes.

Self-Benefit

Our personal level of involvement in health care seems especially important today for two reasons. The first is the time limited nature of typical office visits. Our physicians do not have the luxury of getting to know us as they once did. The second is that despite its many life-saving benefits, conventional medicine is primarily oriented to the treatment of symptoms, not illness prevention.

So, for our longterm well-being - and no matter how much we respect our healthcare provider - we may want to consider whether our current self-care level is where it should be. A little more self education, exploration, and advocacy may serve us, and our family well.

Source: Green Med Info

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