How to Be an Effective Advocate for Aging Parents

Women and daughter smiling

As our parents age, we will start to notice that they are slowing down. They may even be struggling with various things. Of course, we want what’s best for them, in particular, if they are not completely sure themselves.

It can be a very touchy subject and a difficult conversation with your parent or parents. While we may be already wearing plenty of hats looking after them, it is vital that we also advocate for what they want or need.

Being an Advocate for Your Aging Parents

Being a strong and effective advocate for your aging parents is going to require some homework. Even if you decide to get an outside professional to advocate for them, you still need to be informed and involved.

Pay Attention

You might notice a few changes in your parent. Don’t assume they are just having an off day or not feeling up to par. This could be a sign of something yet to surface.

Make notes about what you observe and monitor these issues. It is vital that you address these concerns with your parents and also the rest of your family, if applicable.

Talk to Your Parents

Being an advocate starts with a deep understanding of what your parents want. This can cover any number of topics, like who acts as a caregiver to end-of-life decisions. If you have noticed changes, be sure to bring these issues up.

It is vital that you know what their wishes are about everything that might arise. If they are living with declining cognitive levels, then you need to act quickly and be firm with them so they express to you what they want.

Designate an Advocate

Appointing someone as an advocate and point of contact shouldn’t mean they are solely responsible. But you need someone who can be contacted for any type of emergency or if there are questions or concerns.

This just makes it easier for everyone when there is a contact person. This saves time and confusion. They will be responsible for contacting everyone else and making sure that everything is being taken care of according to your parents’ wishes.

Attend Appointments

You can’t be a great advocate unless you are in the loop. You don’t want your information secondhand or based on opinion. Attend all their appointments to make sure you are informed and up-to-date.

You can also act as the go-between with your parents and the medical staff. They may not understand what is being discussed so you can tell them in terms that they will understand. They may also be scared or worried, and you can reassure them,

Constant Communication

As your parents’ advocate, it is vital that you are always in communication with everyone involved. This means your family, your parents, the medical personnel, the caregiver, and anyone else who is playing a part in their lives.

This will also include legal and financial people, as well. They will need to be informed of any changes that are occurring. You can send them email updates on a regular basis, and make appointments to see them when needed.

Always Be Asking

There are always going to be questions and there will always be people who need answers. It’s important that you are always informed and looking for more information.

Things with your parents may progress rather rapidly, so it is vital that everyone knows what is going on. That means you need to keep asking so you are prepared to relay the latest information when others need it.

Always Be Learning

Situations and conditions will always vary. It is important that you understand what the issues are with your parents, and what comes next. There are also constant changes in medical treatments, so you need to be aware of these, as well.

The more informed you are, the better of an advocate you will be. Your parents and your family will want information. Their medical people will want to be informed about any changes that may be happening and how things are progressing.

Seek Advice

As an advocate, you can’t be expected to know it all. Get professional and expert advice wherever you can. This should be an ongoing part of your advocacy, so everyone is informed and understands what is happening.

You can reach out to people who are going through the same situation you are in your community. You can also seek advice outside of your circle of professionals, just for some peace of mind and a second opinion.

For peace of mind, you can also think about a medical alert system. This gives your parent immediate access to medical or other help, should they need it. You can be informed immediately should something happen.