One of the most difficult parts of helping people get healthier is breaking through the resistance barrier to a cholesterol lowering lifestyle. Many people already know what they need to be doing, they just don’t correlate that their destructive lifestyle actually means that they will die an unpleasant premature death or aren’t living their best life. One doctor discovered that telling the patient this directly and putting them in charge is more effective, especially to the resistant types.
The over 50 crowd grew up with doctors being authority figures and that just because they were going (and got some pills to take) that they were going to get better. That we actually have to be the ones in charge doesn’t really occur to them. The doctor in this story just asks point blank “Do you want to die?”.
Further points not mentioned in this article is that telling a patient all the things they need to do often puts them into “overwhelm mode”. That it is too much. We developed our habits because it is how we cope with the demands in our lives. Telling someone that they have to change all that means piling work onto an already overworked person. Preferably a good transition plan should be in place, with coaches or programs that patients can follow.
I learned this from over 30 years of teaching in the classroom. At the university level, many courses require you only to study for one or two exams over a ten week period and your grade fully depends on this. Due to the demands of students (many of them work 30 or more hours a week to support their expensive educations), they won’t take the time to study the material weekly. They only study right before each exam and cram.
This is hardly effective learning and long term retention is the exception rather than the rule. Since a great proportion of the students in my classes were future dentists or doctors, I would not want a doctor that forgot everything they learned while on the operating table. That’s a frightening prospect.
So, in my management of the course material, I required weekly graded assignments. This forced the students to take time to learn it in bite-sized pieces. The repetition before an exam helped with retention. This worked well as several of my former students came to me and told me that my physics course was the only one in which they didn’t need to review for.
So how does this relate to getting better compliance in health care? Simple, a weekly assignment that needs to be mastered and turned into a habit. Start with a 15 minute walk every day, no matter when. Just take one. Walk right after eating lunch for example. Then the following week, drink 8 glasses of water a day along with the walk. Eventually, the habits will build, and the lifestyle will be shifted to health promoting.
Breaking through the resistance barrier to a cholesterol lowering lifestyle
“I have several patients who’ve had hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol for years, but cannot tell me a single medication they take. Some patients do not regularly check their blood sugar despite being on insulin for diabetes and despite having …”
So, breaking through the resistance barrier to a cholesterol lowering lifestyle will probably take more than just putting the patient in charge and telling them the bald truth. Fact is, there are a few different learning styles. Some people will jump in with both feet while others need to be shown step by step how to manage their new lifestyle (and involve their famiies as well). A simple program is found in “Get Rid of Bad Cholesterol” available on Amazon.