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Advocating

January 10, 2019

Advocate.

 

One who pleads the cause of another.

 

One who defends or maintains a cause or proposal.

 

One who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group.

Thank you, merriam-webster.com.

 

Part of caregiving an elderly loved one is being their advocate. I don’t do much pleading or maintaining, but I find myself doing a lot of defending, supporting, and promoting the best interests of my mom as we continue along her journey.

 

Being an advocate is probably the most important thing you can do for your elderly loved one. It’s the one thing the senior and health care industries can’t lay claim to. A senior service like Meals on Wheels can provide food. A facility locator can find the right care setting for your elderly loved one if need be. Home health care professionals and helpers can provide much needed assistance. But NO ONE can or will advocate for your elderly loved one in the way that you can – and should!

 

Just today I had to read the riot act to one of my mom’s helpers – and her home health care nurse – for their “by the book” approach to care versus what works realistic with someone with dementia – in this case, my mom. Without going into detail, I basically ordered them to follow my approach. (Think mother bear protecting her cub.) And guess which approach worked? Yep, you got that right!!!!

 

I learned long ago that the RIGHT way is not always the BEST way. It’s easy to be intimidated by the M.D. or the R.N. behind someone’s name. It’s easy to be intimidated by someone’s experience with 50 million other elderly people. It’s easy to be intimidated by the “experts.” The “professionals.”

 

It’s not easy to be an advocate. It can be scary, unnerving, and emotionally draining to go toe to toe with those who supposedly know more than you do about such an important issue – your loved one’s life! But there’s this little thing called “instinct.” Nobody knows your loved one better than you. And nobody knows YOU better than you. What do you feel comfortable with? What sets off your radar? What just does not feel “right”?

 

Caregiving involves flexibility, compromise, compassion, and that personal touch that only you can supply. That’s why the canned advice and resources – anathema on this site – are just that. Canned.

 

Whatever aspects of care you have to turn over to someone else, never devalue what you bring to the table. Never disregard your instincts. And never lose the courage to advocate for those most important in your life.

 

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