Seniors have worries, preferences about sharing health information: study

Sharing health information is a critical part of the decision-making process for elderly people and their friends and family, but it's not without consequences, a new study has found.

Study participants were all over age 75, and were invited to participate in group discussions along with their caregivers about how they share their personal health information. The discussions found that many seniors and the people who helped them make healthcare decisions disagreed on what the “burden” of information was between the two parties. They found that many seniors were hesitant to share aspects of their health with their loved ones, for fear of being “spied” on.

The sharing of information between seniors and their caregivers is dynamic, researchers found. Researchers found the preferred transfer of decision-making control between the elder and caregiver should be “fluid” to maximize the patient's autonomy, but there isn't a “one size fits all” method to satisfy everyone.

Technology that allows both the resident and their caregivers to see health information can also cause concerns. Clearer information around what the senior wants to share can alleviate privacy and autonomy concerns, the authors said.

Results appeared in the July issue of JAMA's Internal Medicine.