Are you an advocate? Do you help someone voice their needs and concerns? Do you provide needed information, or help make sense of information given to someone? Have you ever answered the question, “What would I want if I were in the other person’s shoes?” If so, chances are good that you have been an advocate. It’s both easier and harder than it sounds. If you are with your mom in the hospital, she might not want to pursue aggressive treatment for her latest exacerbation of her congestive heart failure (which now includes pneumonia), even though you believe she should. Can you effectively advocate for her in this case? You can, but it might be challenging. An advocate must adopt the views and preferences of the one advocated for, and make sure those views and preferences are heeded.
On the other side, think about your own experiences. Have you ever felt rushed through a doctor’s appointment, and then remembered the questions you meant to ask the doctor minute you get home? Perhaps it would have been a good idea to write down your questions. An even better idea would be to find a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to ensure that YOU get YOUR questions answered. Research indicates that people remember about 25% of what they are told in healthcare visits. Having a peer along for the precious few moments of face time with the doctor might help to not only get your questions answered, but also would assist in remembering those answers and instructions.
Lastly, there might be times when a person is unable to speak for his or her self. This is a when an advocate is crucial to ensuring that a person is treated appropriately regarding their wishes. Think about who you would want advocating for you, and talk to them about it. This might be an uncomfortable topic, but the alternative is to have an unknown entity, such as a doctor or a judge, make decisions on your behalf. This illustrates the importance of having conversations with your loved ones before decisions must be made, so that everyone is on the same page, or at least reading the same book (also see-Asking Better Questions at the End of Life).
As care managers, our purpose is to ensure that the most appropriate care is provided to our clients. We are prepared to ask the important, and often difficult questions, to ensure that the people for whom we advocate for receive the treatment, answers, and care that is best for them. If you would like a professional advocate to assist you or someone close to you, reach out to us at 865-978-6168 or
Written by Maureen Willis