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DEFNITION OF HEALTH.
Health is one of our most precious possessions. The preservation of health is met through the satisfaction of our basic human needs. Understanding the basic needs of people, therefore, is essential for the practical nurse in planning for and meeting the needs of the patient.
After completing this lesson, you should be able to:
• Identify basic concepts of health.
• Identify basic human needs.
• Understand the Health-Illness Continuum concept
• Identify change factors influencing health
PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH
a) Definition of Health.
(1) An individual's concept of health is a very personal thing. 0ne person may consider himself to be healthy whenever he is not physically ill, while another may consider himself to be healthy only when he is emotionally and physically "at his best." A person's notion of health is influenced by a number of different factors or experiences, such as family background, self-concept, religion, past experiences, and socioeconomic status. It is important that you, as a practical nurse, keep this in mind when dealing with your patient's, as well as your own, feelings and interactions.
(2) For purposes of this course, we will define health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
b) Total Health. Although the absence of disease and illness is, by anyone's definition, essential to good health, it is, by no means, the only factor. Total health includes all of the following aspects as well:
(1) Social health. A sense of responsibility for the health and welfare of others.
(2) Mental health. A mind that grows, reasons, and adjusts to life situations.
(3) Emotional health. Feelings and actions that bring one satisfaction.
(4) Spiritual health. Inner peace and security in one's spiritual faith.
THE HEALTH-ILLNESS CONTINUUM
a) An individual's state of health is one of continual change. He moves back and forth from health to illness and back to health again. His condition is rarely constant. He may wake up feeling great, develop a headache mid-morning, and feel fine again by noon. The health-illness continuum (see figure 1-1) illustrates this process of change, in which the individual experiences various states of health and illness (ranging from extremely good health to death) that fluctuate throughout his life. 1
Figure 1-1. The health-illness continuum.
b) As we previously stated, health, just as life itself, is a process of continual change. And we must continually adapt to these changes in our lives in order to maintain good health and well-being. It is our adaptation or response to that change, rather than the change itself, that affects our health. For example, two students just found out about a big test tomorrow, for which they are completely unprepared. One student responds to this stressful situation (stressor) by going home, getting his books out, and starting to study. The other student breaks out into a sweat, and spends most of the evening fretting over this outrage and imagining what will happen to him if he doesn't pass the test. No doubt, this student is doing more damage to his health than is his friend. And, considering the time and energy he is expending on worrying (and not studying), he may experience even more stress when they receive their grades!
c) Adaptation and effective functioning, even in the presence of chronic disease, can be considered a state of wellness. A person may be in perfect physical condition, but feel too tired and "blue" to go to work, while his co-worker, a diabetic, is at work, functioning fully and accomplishing his job. Which of these two people is at a higher level on the health-illness continuum?
NOTE: Death occurs when adaptation fails completely, and there is irreversible damage to the body.
ADAPTING TO CHANGE
The individual's state of health is determined by the ability to adapt to changes in the following dimensions:
a. Developmental--changes in a person's behavior and ability, which are associated with increasing age.
b. Psychosocial--the development of the personality, social attitudes, and skills.
c. Cultural--changes in or development of beliefs and values held by the individual's family or culture.
d. Physiological--changes in body function.
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