To help senior patients improve their health, well-being or quality of life, University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) Professor Melissa Stiles, MD, will lead a new series of healthy aging group medical visits at the Center for Wellness at UW Health at The American Center.
The six-week series, Wellness in Seniors Empowerment (WISE) offers education on prevention health, memory changes, driving concerns, polypharmacy, social isolation and grief, falls prevention and advanced directives.
It also teaches participants skills for cooking, movement and meditation—and how to create a personal wellness action plan.
Each two-hour session includes a brief exam by Dr. Stiles, who along with family medicine is also board certified in geriatric medicine and hospice and palliative medicine. A health coach is available at each session, and a nutritionist, pharmacist and advanced care planning coordinator will participate in some of the sessions.
Social Support, Physician Recommendations for Healthy Aging
Group visits are an innovative, interactive way to bring together people with common health care needs.
“Older patients in particular benefit from the opportunity to have more in-depth conversations with health care providers than they might otherwise have during a regular clinic visit,” Dr. Stiles explains. “Group visits also provide social support, which can empower older patients to ask more questions and get the information they need.”
Dr. Stiles added that group visits can serve as a point of triage for unmet primary or specialty care needs. She does not make direct referrals or change medications during group visits, but with a patient’s permission, will send recommendations to their primary care physician.
For example, a patient who learns about their risk for falls during a WISE session may talk to their doctor about attending an in-depth falls prevention class, or even visiting a specialty falls clinic.
That’s a valuable preventive step, especially when fall rates among Wisconsin elderly are the highest in the nation, according to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was a focus of a recent series of articles in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Dr. Stiles also provides participants with an Aging Mastery® Starter Kit, a resource developed by the National Council on Aging. Designed for people who enjoy learning on their own, or who may want to share with someone not able to attend a group visit in person, the kit includes a guidebook, DVDs on Tai Chi and stretching, activity cards, a personal reflection notebook, a goal-setting chart and postcards to express gratitude.
The kits are provided with financial support from a grant administered by the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources.
Additional Collaborations with the Center for Wellness
The WISE series is part of broader collaborative efforts between DFMCH faculty and the Center for Wellness.
For example, Lisa Simpson, PA-C, a physician assistant based at the UW Health DeForest-Windsor Clinic, now offers Wellness Consultations one half day per week at the Center for Wellness.
These 60-minute appointments build on the Whole Health model to explore a patient’s personal health history, clarify health goals and create a personalized plan to optimize health. Obesity, cardiovascular risk factors, stress-related illnesses (such as headaches, anxiety, depression or sleep disruption) and chronic pain are among the most common health issues addressed during the consultations.
In addition, later this year, DFMCH Clinical Assistant Professor David Kiefer, MD, plans to offer two group visit series: one focused on healthy sleep and one focused on healthy digestion.
For more information about the WISE series or other group medical visits, or to register, call (608) 440-6600.
Published: March 2019