There’s a good chance you are already a patient advocate. You just don’t know it. If you go to the doctor with your mother or father, and you ask questions, you are a patient advocate.
The term is most often associated with nurses. That’s because nurses are often better informed about their patients than the doctors making major decisions.
But adult children of people over 65 often become excellent patient advocates, just because they care about their parents. How can you be the best patient advocate you can be?
It’s a good idea to keep a written list of ALL your parent’s medical conditions and medications. Make copies. Take this list with you to every doctor’s appointment and hospital visit. Making sure every elder care professional knows the big picture is paramount to getting mom or dad the best care.
Your home care professional can help you stay current on symptoms that may elude you during your visits. If your mother or father has a home care agency stopping by several times a week, that will keep you abreast of any new developments.
What Advocates Do
Patient advocates ideally know the patient well and understand the patient’s values. For example, a patient advocate will know his or her mother’s religion and how the rules of that religion suggest guidelines for care.
Advocates make sure the patient understands his condition as well as possible, and also understands the treatment he is undertaking. Patients who are hard of hearing struggle to get the best care simply because they don’t understand what doctors are telling them. Your job, as your parent’s advocate, is to make sure she understands what the doctor is saying and has a say in her care.
If your parent has dementia and cannot fully understand the condition or its treatment, your role as advocate is to make decisions that reflect what you know the patient would want. For example, adult children often make the hard decision whether to resuscitate a parent with multiple organ failure.
Patient advocates make sure that their loved ones have equal access to health resources. That might mean fighting age discrimination. Or it could mean that you challenge a hospital discharge if your parent thinks she is being discharged against her wishes.
If, for some reason, you are unable to accompany your mother or father to the hospital or doctor’s office, you can hire a trained advocate. Be aware that this is a new profession within the field of elder care and there is, as yet, no national accreditation for paid advocates.
There are a few websites that aggregate paid advocates. You can start your search at the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. Or your home elder care agency may make a recommendation.
In conclusion, being a patient advocate is important work, and you want to do it efficiently. Ask questions at the doctor’s office and at the hospital. Make sure your parents understand their conditions and treatments. That will go a long way toward allaying their anxiety about growing old and having more health issues.
If you or someone you know needs Senior Care in Hutchinson, MN, contact Adara Home Health Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve.
Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.