By Diana (DeeDee) Bycoffe, BSN, RN, CWOCN, Nurse Care Manager
As we get older, we must learn how better to care for ourselves. In some cases, we need help navigating this stage, especially as we begin dealing with more serious health issues.
In addition to the obvious symptoms of wear and tear, the hearing starts to fail, eyesight becomes limited, and for some, dementia presents itself. Life’s difficulties start to pile up.
For some people, routine checkups and appointments may seem overwhelming. For many folks, conveying all their questions and remembering all the information may pose a problem. Sometimes follow-up appointments are not scheduled or are missed. Lab tests or x-rays that were ordered during the appointment are not scheduled. There can even be a recommendation to see a specialist – what are the consequences if the appointment isn’t made, or scheduled but forgotten about?
The task can fall upon an adult child, who may be available to help, however, those people may be busy with their life schedules; work, children, or they live out of town and are unable to take time off to assist. They might be feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of being the health care manager and caregiver for their elderly parent.
What Can a Health Care Advocate Do for You?
A health care advocate can step in and help promote health and healthcare access for these individuals. This advocate will discuss your health history, current medications, and the physicians and specialists currently being seen. The advocate will prepare the necessary paperwork and documentation needed before the appointment and help arrange transportation if needed. They will get to know you and work with treatment teams to tailor their treatments and care to guarantee compliance and the best possible outcome. This professional will accompany you to the office visits and be a second set of ears to help interpret, remember, and ask more clarifying questions. The health care advocate will help schedule future appointments and ensure all lab work is completed. If a referral is needed, the advocate will schedule it. They can also perform wellness phone calls and visits. The advocate can be in touch with family members to give them updates as well and let them know the next steps after an appointment.
Dependable and Reliable Educator
A health care advocate can also be an educator and researcher for current and new diagnoses. The advocate can find reliable information on how to properly treat and live with a diagnosis. For example, a new diagnosis of high blood pressure might come with a prescription to control your blood pressure. The health care advocate can teach about:
- the symptoms of high and low pressure,
- the medication’s side effects,
- discuss lifestyle changes (e.g., diet, exercise, etc.) to keep the blood pressure under control,
- when and how to take the medication,
- obtain a blood pressure cuff to record daily pressures.
An advocate can also improve access to the health care system by finding resources in the community, researching for specialists, exploring treatment options, and making all the phone calls and necessary appointments. This will allow you to just focus on your recovery or adjustment to your new lifestyle with a new diagnosis. They can help make sure you get everything you are entitled to, sometimes calling health insurance companies, or arranging for caregivers and/or equipment in the home.
The Option Group has geriatric care managers that are nurses and social workers, and they practice health advocacy with every client. Having a licensed healthcare advocate is beneficial as the healthcare system has become very complex and difficult to navigate.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899/ 215-896-6756 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).