Simple tips for brain injury, illness, aging, injuries, patients … Do you have an advocate? Part 1 of 2

05 Jul

No one can be totally prepared to handle a medical crisis alone!  How can you be the patient and advocate along with a body in crisis?  Some are better ready than others, yet these are too very different roles.  If you’ve never been ill or injured you may think you will never need an advocate.  Trust me, everyone NEEDS an advocate!

Ideally having someone with you while receiving medical care is only idealistic, but realistically this is rare!  Unless you have a huge extended family and friends who take turns this is a rarity.  Advocates may only be necessary for an appointment, but could run long-term for days, weeks, months or even years.  The longer the duration, the more difficult the task.

Planning doesn’t necessarily work, but it helps with some preparation.  Our circumstances change … simply because life is constantly changing.  Family and friends commitments and obligations may limit what they are able to do.  Have a back up plan or two and review possibilities to keep you in the loop.


  • Everyone needs an advocate
  • Idealistic not always realistic
  • Commitment and responsibilities change
  • Duration hours, days, weeks, months, even years
  • A personal advocate is ideal

During a single hospitalization healthcare providers from many disciplines bombard the patient, family, and friends with all sorts of questions.  Each discipline will often ask the same questions.  It simply seems redundant … and it is! This repetition is draining on families and friends.  If you’ve never been interrogated, you probably haven’t been a patient!

Patients and families wonder why professionals don’t read the charts.  From a patient, family and friends perspective it’s tiring and frustrating to continually repeat things but even with the best notes or outlines of health history and symptoms they will still be asked questions.

Patients & Families Interrogated by healthcare professionals

  • Bombarded with questions
  • Draining on patients and families
  • Increases frustration with situation and professionals
  • Family members become irritated with repetition

On the other hand, questioning helps the diagnostician listen to your interpretation.  An immense amount of information can be deciphered from verbal and written communication.  For example: listening to a patient’s response can focus on clarity of speech, thought processes, speed, anxiety, pronunciation, memory deficits, and their interpretation of situation.

Healthcare professionals need to gather their own data.  They don’t have time to read entire charts, but it’s their job to get the information for assessment and evaluation.  This helps form a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Finally, it’s important to find out what happened and get as much “detective” work compiled.  Some details are revealed with every communication.  At times some of these details can help solve criminal cases when the patient enters the healthcare situation through trauma.  A few words spoken by the patient, may be their last words but they often whisper a name or hint linked to the crime.

Questioning helps diagnostician   

  • Listen to responses
  • Clarity of speech & thought
  • Speed of speech
  • Identifies anxiety
  • Pronunciation
  • Understanding

Advocates need to ask questions to better understand and clarify what is happening and get a handle on the care plan for recovery.  They are in the best place to calmly explain to the patient during their time of crisis.  It is like having a personal secretary on hand, keeping written notes, and continually asking questions.

It’s the role of “advocate” that keeps the team accountable and providing the best care possible.  Your advocate is part of the healthcare team.  Without a patient there is no healthcare team.  The patient is the number one person of the entire team.

An advocate usually notes subtle changes before healthcare providers notice.   Call attention to all changes asap to prevent complications even if the changes are subtle.  Let the healthcare professional decide whether the change is significant or not.  If you continue to notice changes insist that something be done.  You should be heard.  Your voice counts!  If you are the advocate … you are speaking for the patient!  Thank you for being an advocate.


  • Ask are assertive and ask questions
  • Attend appointments
  • Visit during hospitalizations
  • Understand plan of care
  • Keep patient informed
  • Document ongoing care & progress & setbacks
  • Address all concerns to healthcare providers
  • Often the best person to note a change in patient because they know the patient personally.

Do you have an advocate?  Are they aware of all your wishes?

**********All material presented on Brain Injury Self Rehabilitation (BISR) is copyright and cannot be, copied, reproduced, or distributed in any way without the express, written consent of Edith E. Flickinger, BSN RN. 


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3 responses to “Simple tips for brain injury, illness, aging, injuries, patients … Do you have an advocate? Part 1 of 2

  1. brokenbrilliant

    July 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    Important facts about taking care of yourself in medical situations

  2. brokenbrilliant

    July 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    This is very important information! Thanks for sharing


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