Older adults want to maintain their lifestyle, stay in control and age with dignity and independence. Yet, sometimes they struggle with acceptance and changing behaviors, placing their health and well-being at risk. Healthcare professionals like you play a critical role in health management and care planning. But, even with all you do, there’s no “single dose” treatment to make your patients comply. Effective health management requires patient participation and engagement. Toward that end, this article highlights the Prochoskas and DiClemente stages of change model. Read how to use the model to identify patient readiness to modify their behaviors and understand factors to consider when directing your care strategies.
Intervention that works starts with understanding the stages of change. Effective health management often requires your patients to make lifestyle changes. But, before helping them change physical behaviors, it’s necessary to get them to change their thinking about the changes they have to make. To assess an older adult’s readiness to mitigate or remove risk factors, first probe to identify their level of awareness and acceptance of their condition, which allows you to recommend intervention that is both relevant and achievable.
- Pre-contemplative stage: If your patient indicates that they do not consider themselves to be at risk, they are pre-contemplative. At this stage, older adults are unlikely to retain any information you provide on the subject as they don’t feel it’s relevant.
- Contemplative stage: At this stage, your patients are thinking about their risk. They are aware of possible negative outcomes and hope they don’t have to face the same illness or challenges. Because they are more receptive to information, be specific about their risks and how they can remove or manage them.
- Action stage: Your patients understand their risk factors, recognize they need to make changes and are concerned about their outcome. At the action stage, patients are cautious and their concerns make them more likely to adhere to their care plan.
- Maintenance stage: Praise and positive reinforcement are important at the maintenance stage. Be specific about the improvements you see in their actions and their condition. If possible, relay how their actions are improving their outcome and overall well-being. Therefore, to effectively engage older adults in modifying behaviors, one needs to identify where patients are in the stages of change, then direct interventions based on their respective stage of change.