For seniors living with a life-threatening condition or a terminal illness, doctors’ appointments, hospital stays, and medical checks tend to increase in frequency. Having someone by their side during these visits may provide comfort, reassurance, and a lesser-considered benefit — advocacy.
An advocate is someone who speaks (or writes) in support of a cause, proposal, or, in this case, a person. An advocate for a senior could be a partner, a friend, a relative or a hired caregiver. There are many reasons why a health advocate may be necessary for palliative care seniors in the health care system, here are just a few.
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Visits to medical offices can be overwhelming for a multitude of reasons — one being that public health systems and their staff are overburdened and stretched to their limits. This can often lead to rushed or hurried visits with a doctor or specialist. Having an advocate sit in on appointments ensures that information and options are explored, understood and retained so that they can be clearly broken down later.
A Better Understanding of Medical Terminology
Medical terminology is regularly indiscernible to the untrained ear. This is particularly problematic for seniors who may have hearing or memory difficulties, and for family members who are navigating a stressful, heartbreaking time.
In this instance, having a healthcare provider like a registered nurse by one’s side is quite helpful. They can comprehend and relay medical jargon at a gentle, pared-back pace, help alleviate any questions or unknowns, and make it easier for family members and seniors to make educated, empowered decisions.
Home health care providers like Integracare Home Care offer compassionate at-home palliative care, and an important facet of this is patient advocacy. A registered nurse can be partnered with a client not only to provide treatment and care but also to make sure that the client’s needs are being understood and met by their doctors and specialists.
A Second Opinion
An advocate for a senior can help provide a second opinion. This is especially advantageous for the patient when decisions about treatment options need to be settled upon. Deciding the best course of treatment for a palliative patient is daunting; a second opinion can help allay any worries the senior may have, as the responsibility of choice isn’t exclusively placed on them.
Further, an advocate can help by providing insights into whether a treatment is actually working. For example, they can advise other medical professionals if the senior has been having less fitful nights of sleep, if they’ve been complaining less about pain, or if bouts of nausea have lessened.
Having someone to advocate on behalf of a senior in palliative care is crucial — be it a relative, friend or a hired professional. And hiring a compassionate, experienced caregiver is worth special consideration if the immediate family lives overseas and the senior is far from personal contacts.
In addition to being overwhelming, saddening and distressing, palliative care can feel incredibly lonely and isolating. Having an advocate on-side to support a senior through their medical journey is beneficial from a medical standpoint and an emotional one.