3 Ways You Can Transition from Caregiver to Advocate

When caregivers choose to partner with a person like a paid caregiver or a resource like a senior community to make sure the person in their care is getting the care they deserve, it can be difficult to make the mental transition from “caregiver” to “advocate.” Fortunately, we’re here to help!

Making the Mental Shift

Caregiving is, in essence, directly providing for the physical needs of someone you love. In contrast, advocacy is more about helping them understand the resources available to them and making sure they are getting the treatment they deserve. Think of it this way: it’s similar to the difference between doing a task and making sure the task gets done. The end goal, however, is the same. You want to know that your loved one is getting the best care possible.

So how do you move from caregiving to advocacy in your care partnership?

Tip 1: Hit the Books

First, time to hit the books! Or at least the Internet. There are a myriad of resources available for both seniors and their care partners, including AARP, the National Institute on Aging, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), your local area agency on aging and even our blog! Taking the time to review these resources or join an email list could help you answer questions you already have — and even questions you didn’t know to ask!

Tip 2: Read the Fine Print

Next, dedicate time to reviewing paperwork. It’s a sad fact that seniors are often targeted for scams. You don’t have to be a contract lawyer or a CPA to help the person with whom you’re partnering with balancing their checkbooks, reviewing medical bills and insurance claims or stepping in if you suspect a scam. With their permission, you can take time to help them stay on top of their account balances, review their transactions and any contracts for anything untoward, and take action on their behalf if anything suspicious crops up.

Tip 3: Be Action-Oriented

Once you have a better understanding of resources available to seniors and you’re helping with the complexities and challenges of paperwork, the next step is simple: choose to be an active participant in their lives! If they’re at a senior community, regular visits can provide you with the opportunity to check in on their physical health, their mood, their diet and their overall care. When you are in a regular cadence of visits, you have the opportunity to get to know the other people involved in your loved one’s care, and you can ask questions directly if something happens that you’re concerned about. Plus, a little face-to-face time could be just the thing to prevent loneliness, which, research suggests, is correlated with negative health outcomes in seniors. Who knew that a simple visit could have such profound effects?

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