Advocacy requires a lot of hard work, but it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give another person.
Many caregivers help manage day-to-day care giving tasks, doing all kinds of things like fixing WiFi, shoveling snow, paying bills to cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning up around the house. Other caregivers may also act as patient advocates and handle healthcare-related tasks, doing everything from setting up doctor visits to managing medications.
When you become a primary caregiver for an aging parent or a vulnerable loved one, it can be overwhelming. And, sometimes, the role even can be a little scary, especially when it comes to helping them navigate the increasingly complex healthcare system.
Prepare to care
We’ve compiled a set of starter tips to make your transition to being a patient advocate a little easier and give you some things you can try to develop your advocacy skills. Whether you’re a family member or a close friend, use the following advice for ways you can be more effective when it comes to making sure your loved one gets the best possible care and treatment.
Be helpful by being respectful
The main thing you need to keep in mind to succeed in this role is that you always need to respect how your loved one wants to be treated. In terms of patient advocacy, acting with respect means making decisions based on their preferences and carrying out their wishes whenever it is possible.
When it comes to respect, good communication is crucial. To improve your communication, try to:
- Listen more than you talk,
- Stick to the facts,
- Be clear and direct, and
- Say thank you regularly.
Keep a watchful eye and stay organized
There is a lot to keep track of as a patient advocate. Pay attention to other changes with your loved one. Sometimes small shifts in their mood (e.g., more easily frustrated or angry) or desires (e.g., loss of appetite or trouble sleeping) can signal that something isn’t right with their health that you should bring to the attention of a healthcare professional.
Take comprehensive notes of what you see, hear, and observe, and share this information with your loved one’s doctor at their appointments.
Tips for having a productive conversation with your loved one’s doctor:
- Write down of all your questions before every appointment so that you don’t forget what you want to ask
- Always ask for clarification if you get a response to a question that you don’t understand
- Keep a written log of what you hear during every conversation
If something doesn’t seem right, ask follow-up questions, get a second opinion, and make any appropriate changes.
Outside of the doctor’s office, you’ll need to find a way that works for you to keep track of prescription instructions, provider instructions, medical bills, insurance policy information, healthcare appointments, and other items. If, by nature, you aren’t an organized person, try staying organized with a caregiver-focused software tool or organizer app, such as LotsaHelpingHands, CaringBridge, or CareZone.
According to the National Center on Caregiving, around 43 million people provide care for older loved ones, and that number is only expected to keep growing.
If you’re helping an aging loved one build better health and they need a primary care provider, we can help. Request an appointment online with a Logansport Memorial Hospital doctor or call (574) 725-3463 to talk with one of our healthcare professionals who will connect you with the provider you need.
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