A Caregiver is an Advocate

The beauty of an ongoing series of posts on this website is that if I omit an important piece in the previous post, I can write about it the following day.

Such is what I did in leaving out an important quality of an awesome caregiver; that being the caregiver is an Advocate for the patient.

Allow me to give you a portion of Webster’s Dictionary definition of “advocate” – “a person who speaks or writes in support of a cause, person, etc.  A person who pleads for, or in behalf of, another.”

An awesome caregiver is an advocate for the patient, so let me explain what I have learned that being an advocate involves in my years of experience.

First, I will tell you what it is not.  It is not controlling a patient; and it is not disallowing the patient to have his/her own voice and taking away their voice of opinion.

An advocate listens closely to the patient, learns what the patient thinks, asks how they are feeling, will have a clear view of the patient’s wishes for a medical treatment plan.

An advocate will pay close attention to all the details of a patient’s life.  Keeping a calendar is usually a must.  A caregiver must be aware of important upcoming appointments, birthdays, and other occasions.

Frequently, (I’m tempted to say more often than not) a caregiver will be the voice for the patient and the person of action who handles the details of health care.

This is always done after consulting the patient (and patient’s family if available).  Let the patient have a voice in how their home is run and in how their treatment plan is managed.  This becomes a little trickier when the patient has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  Yet, still the patient should feel he/she has a voice.

After consulting with my patient, I was the one who planned the meals and shopped for necessary items.  I also kept track of needs for the home (ie: batteries, light bulbs, etc.).  Running lists are a must here.

In my experience as a caregiver, I was the one who kept track of medications and knew when it was time to order refills; I was the one who scheduled various doctor appointments and made sure the patient went to each one.

At the doctors’ offices, I always went in with my patient so I could take notes and be fully aware of the doctor’s recommendations for medications, treatments, and so forth.  Often I would notice that my elderly patients would not speak up in a doctor’s office; they had a tendency to sweep symptoms under the rug once they sat on the doctor’s examining table.  That was when it became my job to politely insert the details of health issues, any medication problems, and how much the patient was eating or exercising.

To summarize, the caregiver often speaks in support of the patient, yet always allows the patient to voice his/her own version of a situation.


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