Nowhere self-care education is as important as it is for older adults because they are associated with high readmission rates and a lack of behaviors necessary to support positive health outcomes. Self-care refers to the ability of an individual to engage in regulatory activities aimed at the promotion of health and well-being (Pender, Murdaugh, & Parsons, 2011; Sharma & Romas, 2012). The role of this ability is especially prominent in the management of heart failure. The aim of this paper is to discuss methods for increasing the effectiveness of self-care education for older adults with heart failure. The paper will draw on social cognitive theory to explain how the population can develop healthy behaviors.
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Disturbances caused by heart failure require a host of day-to-day care activities such as healthy eating, sodium restrictions, comorbidities management, physical exercise, and medication compliance (Moser et al., 2012). To enhance the population’s success in acquiring self-care knowledge pertinent to the management of heart failure, it is necessary to explore their potential for change. The role of a nurse in the development of health-related lifestyles and behaviors in patients with heart failure is to become a catalyst for and a mediator of change (Pender et al., 2011).
To approach the behavioral change in a systematic manner, it is necessary to select a framework of change. Social cognitive theory can provide a comprehensive theoretical underpinning for the education process. The theory posits that an individual’s expectations are bi-directionally linked with their behaviors and environments (Giddens, 2015). It follows that a nurse who has a deep understanding of social cognitive theory can help their patients to practice positive health behaviors by influencing their perceptions and motivations.
It has been long established that the functional performance of older adults hinges on their perceived self-efficacy (Mullen, McAuley, Satariano, Kealey, & Prohaska, 2012). It has to do with the fact that many functional activities associated with complications are socio-contextual. Thus, to improve the ability of older adults to manage heart-failure, one should target their self-efficacy beliefs. These expectations are central to the theory and refer to a person’s perception of their ability to successfully perform a certain action (Mullen et al., 2012). Given the enormity of life-style changes required from patients with heart failure, it is necessary to increase their level of persistence in the pursuit of healthy behaviors.
A healthcare professional helping the population to develop self-care skills have to understand the main sources of self-efficacy. These sources are mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion, and somatic states (Pender et al., 2011). By tailoring educational interventions to these sources, a nurse can improve their ability to manage both the disease and its comorbidities. A study conducted by French, Olander, Chisholm, and McSharry (2014) lists the following social cognitive theory-based methods for improving self-efficacy in older people: “setting behavioral goals, prompting self-monitoring of behavior, planning for relapses, providing normative information, and providing feedback on performance” (p. 225). Therefore, a nurse who bases their self-care education on the theory can achieve remarkable results in terms of improving the health and well-being of patients with heart failure.
The paper has discussed methods that can be used by healthcare professionals to increase the effectiveness of self-care education for older adults with heart failure. The paper has emphasized the role of self-efficacy perceptions in disease management. It has been argued that social cognitive theory-based interventions such as self-monitoring and behavioral goals can be helpful in the process of adopting new self-care behaviors.
French, D. P., Olander, E. K., Chisholm, A., & McSharry, J. (2014). Which behavior change techniques are most effective at increasing older adults’ self-efficacy and physical activity behavior? A systematic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 48(2), 225-234.
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Giddens, J. F. (2015). Concepts for nursing practice (2nd ed.). Frankfurt, Germany: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Moser, D. K., Dickson, V., Jaarsma, T., Lee, C., Stromberg, A., & Riegel, B. (2012). Role of self-care in the patient with heart failure. Current Cardiology Reports, 14(3), 265-275.
Mullen, S. P., McAuley, E., Satariano, W. A., Kealey, M., & Prohaska, T. R. (2012). Physical activity and functional limitations in older adults: The influence of self-efficacy performance. The Journals of Gerontology, 67(3), 354-361.
Pender, N., Murdaugh, C., & Parsons, M. A. (2011). Health promotion in nursing practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Sharma, M., & Romas, J. A. (2012). Theoretical foundations of health education and health promotion (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.