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Helping a Senior Loved One with Their Care, You Need to Be Their Advocate

As our loved ones age, their health becomes a top priority, often necessitating more frequent visits to healthcare providers and interactions with the complex healthcare system. Navigating this intricate network can be daunting for seniors. Being a senior’s health advocate means being their voice, guide, and supporter in a system that can sometimes be overwhelming and challenging to navigate.

To be an effective health advocate for a senior loved one, there are several key strategies and actions that can be implemented:

  1. Build a Strong Relationship with Healthcare Providers: Establishing open lines of communication with healthcare providers is paramount. Attend appointments with your senior loved one, ask questions: What are the side effects of this medication?  What are the pros and cons of this treatment?  Is there an alternative option to this procedure? If you don’t fully comprehend the diagnosis, treatment options, and potential side effects don’t be afraid to ask the doctor to explain something in a simpler way. This not only helps you advocate for the senior but also fosters a collaborative relationship with the healthcare team.
  2. Maintain Detailed Medical Records: Keep organized and up-to-date records of your senior loved one’s medical history, medications, and treatments. Having this information readily available can save precious time in emergency situations and ensure that healthcare providers have a comprehensive understanding of the senior’s health. Having a list of the medications a senior is taking on them can be lifesaving in an emergency.
  3. Understand Insurance Coverage: Navigate the often-confusing world of insurance coverage to ensure that your senior loved one receives the appropriate care without unexpected financial burdens. You may need to advocate for necessary tests, treatments, and medications that may not be readily covered, and explore potential assistance programs that can alleviate costs.
  4. Promote Informed Decision-Making: Ensure that your senior loved one fully understands their healthcare options, empowering them to make informed decisions about their treatment. This involves explaining the benefits and risks of different interventions and respecting the senior’s preferences and values in the decision-making process.  Understanding the lasting impact of a treatment or procedure is essential in evaluating its true efficacy.
  5. Address Communication Challenges: Recognize and address any communication challenges that may arise due to cognitive decline or other health issues. Provide clear and concise information to healthcare providers, and advocate for alternative communication methods if necessary, such as written instructions or visual aids.  Don’t be afraid to ask a physician to repeat something or write it down for you.
  6. Be Honest: There’s nothing to be gained by misrepresenting habits and history.  Be accurate in representing diet and consumption quantities (alcohol) and be specific as to how often someone falls and when/why it happens, or if they exhibit behaviors as a result of anger or frustration.  “Gilding the Lily” doesn’t protect someone’s dignity, it puts them at risk.
  7. Coordinate Care Among Multiple Providers: Many seniors have a team of healthcare providers addressing different aspects of their health. As a health advocate, coordinate communication among these providers to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive approach to care. This can help prevent conflicting advice and enhance the overall quality of care. In complex cases it may be helpful to hire a Geriatric Care Manager to coordinate care.
  8. Advocate for Preventive Care: Emphasize the importance of preventive care, including regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings. Proactively advocate for preventive measures to maintain the senior’s health and catch potential issues early on.  This includes monitoring hygiene to prevent conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections.

 

Being a health advocate for a senior loved one is an invaluable role that significantly impacts their well-being. Through proactive engagement with healthcare providers, meticulous record-keeping, and informed decision-making, you can ensure that your senior loved one navigates the healthcare system with confidence and receives the personalized care they deserve.  For help finding the right care options for a senior you love reach out to Oasis Senior Advisors (914.356.1901 – 475.619.4123 -TheDoyles@YourOasisAdvisor.com).  They can connect you to the resources you need at no cost to you.

Oasis Senior Advisors

Fairfield-Westchester

are here to help

Paul and Susan Doyle

Certified Senior Advisor®

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475-619-4123