Caregivers often play many roles in the lives of their loved ones. From appointment scheduling, to financial manager, nurse, encourager, housekeeper, nurturer, the list seems never ending. The most important role you will fill as caregiver is the role of advocate as you work to ensure that your loved one is living their best quality of life when they are their most vulnerable.
Being an effective advocate starts with being an educated consumer. Most people do not purchase a home or a vehicle, or make travel plans without first doing some research. However, when it comes to healthcare, arguably the most important issue we deal with as we age, far to many of us feel powerless because we are unable or unwilling to ask tough questions, assert rights or make requests for a second opinion.
As caregiver it is up to us to speak for our family members who are unable to speak up and be an advocate for themselves. Strong advocacy is built on a foundation made up of knowledge, communication and confidence. Understanding our loved ones wishes for care and quality of life and making sure they are honored is an important part of being an advocate.
Knowledge- Learn as much as you reasonably can about your loved ones condition and any and all options available to them when it comes to their healthcare choices. There are many resources to help guide you. You may not find all of your answers in one place. Ask questions, and compile your own research by utilizing books, news articles and websites (however you will want to make sure their sources are credible).
Communication- Try to get some face time with the doctors that are caring for your loved one. This is not always easy, but it is important to try to keep an open dialogue with them so you can try to anticipate what your loved ones needs will be moving forward. It is important that you try to understand diagnosis, treatment, benefits, risks, options and expected outcomes. DO NOT be afraid to ask questions of healthcare providers, or even for a second opinion if a diagnosis makes you feel uncomfortable.
Confidence- You may not have a medical degree, but you are intelligent and have instincts.. Trust them. Make sure you are getting answers to your questions. Your direct involvement can make all the difference. By gaining knowledge and keeping open lines of communication with everyone involved with your loved ones care, your confidence in your caregiving abilities will grow.
If you need assistance walking through the maze of Medicare with your loved one, give us a call. By utilizing the tools we have available to us we can help you to identify, understand and navigate through the choices that are available to your family member. Our years of experience and training can help save you and your family precious time and energy when it comes to making knowledgeable Medicare decisions.