Understanding how to act in the best interest of your friend or family member
What does it mean to advocate for a loved one?
As a caregiver, a critical aspect of your role is to look out for the best interest of your friend or family member and speak up on their behalf, especially when they’re not able to speak for themselves. Under most circumstances, your loved one will be undergoing medical treatment and/or have been placed in a hospital, assisted living, or a nursing home.
Your essential function as an advocate in this scenario would be to serve as the “middle man” between your loved one and the people responsible for providing their health care.
Understanding how to advocate will help you fulfill their needs more effectively.
Pay attention and take detailed notes
If your loved one is dealing with a chronic health condition, try to keep track of details about the illness. Documenting the symptoms or effects your loved one has experienced and the various treatments and medications that have been administered could prove to be invaluable information to the medical professionals providing their health care.
Ask and answer questions
You will be expected to act as a resource for your loved one’s team of medical professionals. This is especially important if your loved one has been admitted to the hospital with a sudden illness or pain. In the event of an emergency, you would be able to provide the nurses or doctors with background information about your loved one, including their medical history.
Conversely, take the opportunity to ask any of your own questions. You should feel empowered to share your own thoughts and ask questions if you would like clarity. Providing your perspective might offer the medical staff insights they might not otherwise be aware of, and don’t hesitate to ask the purpose of certain tests and procedures being performed.
Speak up on their behalf
Courage is a requirement to be an advocate. You can’t be afraid to speak up. If you or your loved one do not feel comfortable or if there is too much uncertainty regarding their care, express those concerns to the medical staff. They will almost certainly welcome any constructive feedback and will take steps to ease or accommodate any and all concerns.
Communicate the wishes of your loved one
As a caregiver, it is important that you are aware of your loved one’s wishes regarding medical treatment, specifically their end-of-life wishes. It can be a difficult conversation to have, but it will help when the time comes and you are expected to make difficult decisions on their behalf. Part of that means making sure their wishes are documented in advance to ensure that medical teams act in accordance with what they’ve decided for themselves.
Advocating on behalf of a loved one can be a challenging role, but it is essential to helping improve their overall care and comfort.