You Can Make the Most of Your Whole Health - Veterans Health Administration
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You Can Make the Most of Your Whole Health

physician reviewing health information with a patient

We begin with "What matters to you?"

By Hans Petersen
Monday, March 16, 2015

You are the expert on you.

The first and most important step in dealing with your “Whole Health” is to ask: What really matters to me? What do I want or need?

What is “Whole Health?” Whole health is every aspect of life that affects your health and well-being.

VA has developed a “whole health” approach to care. Instead of starting the conversation with “What’s the matter?” it begins with “What matters to you?”

Doctor Tracy Gaudet

Dr. Tracy Gaudet

VA’s Dr. Tracy Gaudet says, “Whole Health doesn’t start with the disease or the condition — it starts with you!  By exploring what matters most to you, and then addressing all areas of your life that impacts your health, you can live your fullest life and optimize your health.

“It is an approach informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches and emphasizes self-care, at all points along the spectrum of health and disease.”

Dr. Gaudet is Director of VHA’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

Central to the idea of improving management of chronic disease and health conditions, VA’s approach to whole health includes mind-body, nutritional, and complementary health strategies to improve the well-being of Veterans.

How do you participate in “whole health”? On this website, you will find a Personal Health Inventory to help you think about where you are on the path to whole health, where you want to be, and what you are willing to do to enhance your overall well-being.

Together, you and your health care team can develop a plan that achieves your goals. To get started, read it over, print it out, and bring it to your next appointment.

What really matters to me? What do I want or need?

Start a conversation with your health care team. The Personal Health Inventory helps you and your team talk through what matters most to you and find the right kind of care for your needs.

Here’s a sample of what you will find in the Personal Health Inventory that will help you start to take charge of your “whole health.”

The Areas of Self-Care

Self-care is often the most important factor in living a healthy life, which in turn allows you to live your life fully, in the ways that matter to you.

Self-care includes all the choices you make on a daily basis that affect your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In fact, how you take care of yourself will have a greater impact on your health and well-being than the medical care you receive.

Evidence shows that each of the eight areas of self-care in your Personal Health Inventory contributes a great deal to your overall health and well-being. They can also affect your chances for developing diseases as well as the seriousness of that disease.

  • Working your body
  • Surroundings
  • Personal development
  • Food and drink
  • Recharge
  • Family, friends, and co-workers
  • Spirit and soul
  • Power of the mind

Taking stock of where you are now and where you want to be in each of these areas is the first step in living a healthier life.

It’s the rest of your life. Why not take care of it?