As a caregiver, you wear a lot of metaphorical hats. These span from friend, housekeeper nurse, scheduler, financier, etc. Yet, one of the most important ‘hats’ that you will wear is patient advocate.
When navigating the healthcare system, it is important to make sure your loved one doesn’t fall through the cracks. The best way to prevent this is to actively advocate for the patient. The following will offer some methods for advocation of a loved one.
Make Certain Someone Is Present to Advocate
One of the simplest methods of advocacy is being physically present for doctors’ appointments. If your loved one cannot advocate for themselves, make certain that someone is in the room to advocate for them. It makes a world of difference to have someone there to ask the hard questions, provide relevant feedback, and take copious notes.
If you cannot be there, you should consider an ancillary caregiver, such as a friend or home health aide. Once the appointment is over, you can ‘debrief’ on what you missed.
Prepare Your Questions Beforehand
We can all agree that healthcare can be confusing. One can get lost merely reading the fine print on a prescription! Thus, to better navigate the healthcare system, it’s important to arm yourself with any questions that may arise.
These can include:
– What are the side effects of this treatment?
– Will this deter their independence if they take this treatment?
– What is the added benefit of this treatment?
– What are the possible consequences of avoiding this treatment?
Prepare your questions beforehand and review the information you would like to glean from the doctor. Bring a writing utensil to dictate answers and write down any new questions that arise.
Be Clear and Concise
The best way to advocate for your loved one is to know what you want to state, and then state it with the utmost clarity. This change in communication requires being fully informed about your loved one’s healthcare and being completely direct in the delivery. It’s the difference between ‘I am unsure about the medication’ and ‘Mom has complained about a prolonged nasal drip on this current prescription, is there a way to lower her dosage?”
The former sentence is a vague statement, and can be easily disregarded as an off-hand comment. The latter example offers a clear scenario with a workable course of action.