Whether it’s because of dementia , a generational tendency not to question doctors or a fear of reprisal, many elderly people need an advocate to speak up on their behalf. An advocate will help ensure questions are answered and information is accurately relayed between caregivers and senior. They will look out for the health and financial wellness of the individual as well as offering personal support.
Many adult children of seniors do not live near by but thanks to technology, can keep in close contact with the help of email, phone and visual calling. Seeing each other, even through a computer screen, can relay much more information about what is going on than with a phone call or written communication. The visual information, how a person looks, if they are dressed properly and their facial expressions convey much more than what is actually being said.
Advocating for seniors with the medical community can mean accompanying them to appointments or if not possible, communicating before appointments with any concerns or changes in health and following up after the visit. Friends or care workers can also serve as advocates if prepared ahead with relevant questions to ask and information to convey.
For elderly family or friends in assisted living, it important to get to know staff and ask questions about care. If possible visit often or send other friends and family to drop in and check for any signs of neglect. These may include poor hygiene, bedsores, changes in personality, unexplained injury, the use of restraints, weight loss, dehydration, drug overdose, failure to take medication or unsafe living conditions.
There are three basic categories of advocacy:
Keep a current list of all medications and a good relationship with family doctors. Members of The Oldish can click here for our medication checklist. Attend appointments if necessary for good communication. Keep a journal of changes in health.
A financial advocate will keep an eye open for any changes in spending. This can be a sign of financial scams which elderly can fall prey to often.
This can mean anything that has changed in the daily care for a senior. A advocate may address slip and fall hazards or make sure the home is cleaned and food is being restocked. They will make sure the senior is safe and comfortable at home.
For more information about advocating for seniors, visit the British Columbia Office of the Seniors Advocate website at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca .