Symptom Self-Treatment Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Heart Disease
BACKGROUND: Among older adults, chronic illness is a common issue. More importantly, chronic illnesses can have an impact on factors such as sleep, pain, itch, and overall physical functioning. There is a limited amount of research describing and comparing selfreported treatment methods for heart disease to symptom control. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to explore self-treatment methods used by community-dwelling older adults with heart disease to control symptoms. METHODS: For this prospective study a convenience sample of 39 community-dwelling older adults ages 60 years and older were recruited from senior centers in urban, rural, and suburban areas in Southeastern Michigan. Participants completed a one-time paper and pencil survey. RESULTS: Thirty-nine community-dwelling older adults met inclusion criteria and stated they were diagnosed with heart disease. The mean number of symptoms reported by these older adults was 2.35 (SD=1.399) with symptom category frequencies as follows: pain (n=33), itch (n=6), sleep problems (n=14), anxiety (n= 8), depression (n=5), memory problems (n=9), and wounds/injuries (n=15). In terms of quality of life, significant differences were found in role limitation due to physical health, role limitation due to emotional problems, emotional well-being, and social functioning. IMPLICATIONS: The self-treatment methods of symptom control utilized by community-dwelling older adults resulted in improvements in their reported quality of life, specifically those related to the physical, emotional, and social functioning of community-dwelling older adults.
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