Are you part of the “sandwich generation” – still in the throws of raising children while caring for your aging parents? You’re not alone.
When your parents begin to enter the stage of life where their independence is becoming more and more limited, your natural reaction is likely to be to step in and help out. This is how it should be. What you may not realize is that while you’re helping your parents out, you’re also taking on the role of healthcare advocate.
What is a Healthcare Advocate?
A healthcare advocate might be a spouse or child or other trusted caregiver who assists in dealing with all the elderly’s healthcare needs. This may involve helping in finding the right physician, going to doctor visits, picking up and organizing medication, and giving counsel in medical decisions.
How to be an Effective Healthcare Advocate
Your involvement as your aging parents’ healthcare advocate may be minimal for now. But overtime it will likely increase and your role will become more and more vital. It’s important to approach this new stage in life with sensitivity and loving care.
Here are some tips to becoming an effective healthcare advocate for your parents:
You haven’t suddenly become in charge of your parents. You are here to help them out by hearing them out. Have meaningful conversations that center around listening to their concerns and how they want to address them.
Help with preparations.
Finding the right physician and getting all the paper work dealt with is a task in itself. Offer to take some of this off of your parents’ shoulders. Do some research for them and help them fill out some paper work. You should also take the time to write out any health concerns that your parents want to discuss while at the doctor’s office.
Whether or not your parent needs a ride to the doctor’s office, tag along. Take copious notes and encourage your parent to ask all the questions he or she may have. Make sure that both you and your parent understand what the doctor says and any treatment he or she prescribes.
Pay attention to your parents’ health changes, especially if they’ve been put on a medication that may result in side affects. Some symptoms may go unnoticed by your parents, which could lead to other health complications. Without being overbearing, be alert and aware.
It’s a little bit scary, this aging thing. Your parent may not be ready to face the health issues that he or she is dealing with. Don’t leave them to face these changes alone. Join them in this journey by following up on how they’re doing, checking to be sure they’re taking their medications correctly, and encouraging them to keep taking care of themselves. You’re not only an advocate for them, you’re an advocate to them for their own wellbeing.
You’ve taken on a high calling as one of the sandwich generation. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a road worth taking.