A doctor's take on the real meaning of "taking care"

Dr. Simon McKeown examines a patient.

"Take care of yourself" - it's a common sentiment many use on a daily basis with friends, family or coworkers.

In this week's Family First segment KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health's Dr. Simon Mckeown about how physicians can help all of us "take care of ourselves".

Dr. Mckeown said his method for helping patients involves very little judging - and a lot of listening. "One of the things that I don't want to do is tell people how to run their lives," he said.

He said he's seen patients make the most positive lifestyle changes - and take better care of themselves overall - when it's their decision. "I think most people in their lives can identify something they'd like to change. And it's not always the doctor's place to decide what that thing is," he said. "It's often the doctor who gets it wrong; that we don't identify the particular stress that someone has."

Dr. Mckeown said instead of jumping to assumptions, he tries to provide an opportunity for patients to talk about what matters the most to them. "You might see somebody's weight, but it might actually be something else that's eating away at them, something else making them feel dissatisfied with themselves," he said. "They might be perfectly happy with the way they look."

He said sometimes, a visit to the doctor's office is the only chance some people have to share what's concerning them, what's on their mind. "My goal is giving somebody the opportunity to say, 'This seems like a small thing, but to me it's really big. If I could get that out of my life, then things would be great.'"

He said his medical expertise really only comes into play after he first listens to a patient's concerns. "I want to be a sounding board," he said. "When people know what they want to achieve, what they want to make better, what they're passionate about, I want to do whatever I can to help."

Watch KRCG 13 at 5 p.m. next Friday for our next Family First segment - we'll talk with a pulmunologist about the lifelong health benefits of incorporating physical activity into your daily life.

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