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

12 Jul

A person that is traumatized or fighting illness needs help.Remembering to ask all the right questions, listening to all the tests and procedures needed, preparing for the best recovery all while being poked, prodded, questioned, transported from scan to scan and procedure to procedure is rarely able to handle all these tasks simultaneously.  Can you really say “Wait let me get out a pen and paper?”

Let’s get real and think about the probability of your body in medical crisis! You certainly cannot handle all these things and an advocate can literally save your life.  You are only one person, and your body needs to recover.

It takes at least two to get through most medical situations.  Never expect to do this alone.   You learned to be independent, but this is one time in your life that you don’t have to do it all yourself.  Your health and life is worth another set of eyes and ears.  

Who is the best advocate?

  • Spouse
  • Friends
  • Sibling
  • Significant Other
  • Relative

***Someone who can handle a crisis.  Sometimes the obvious person may be a spouse.  Other times that person may not be able to handle crisis so another person should be chosen.  You can choose a spouse, friend, or relative with an additional person to help handle what another can’t.

Everyone needs someone to help them with health issues, so if you don’t have a health care advocate don’t wait till you are in crisis.  Start thinking about the following:  Who would best help you through a difficult time?  Who would be objective?  Who can take notes?  Who will attend appointments?  Who will spend time while you are hospitalized?  Who is willing to call the doctor’s office?  Who is willing to be assertive and ask questions?

Talk with the people you are considering and see if they would be up to the task.  This is a serious job, it is your life and health!  Have a back-up partner.  Change is the one constant in life.  Life events may hamper ones ability to step up to the task at certain times.  Be prepared that an alternative may be necessary, but at least expect someone to help. It must always be someone you trust with your life and health.

Partner up.  Just as you wouldn’t walk without a partner in elementary school, you need a partner with all your health issues.

You are looking for someone who will take notes at your doctor’s appointments.  Ask questions and emphasize that the healthcare team move quickly when you note a decline in health status.  They make sure your symptoms are not dismissed or overlooked.

Additional tasks for advocates

  • Make telephone calls
  • Request they page the doctor to return to the floor to talk with both you and patient
  • Request proper resources and referrals
  • Check on test results, test scheduling
  • Make sure you attend your scheduled appointments
  • Keep on top of healthcare professionals
  • Problem solve
  • Require patients to rest!  Sleep promotes healing.
  • Advocates help shorten hospital stays and recovery time
  • Most advocates are women,  but men are equally qualified!

It is your job to Inform hospital staff and physicians you have a healthcare advocate.  Your advocate is more than a friend or relative as you are trusting them with your life and health.  If you treat them well, so will the staff.  They are an intricate part of your healthcare team.

Select your advocate before you NEED one!  They don’t have to be an expert or a healthcare provider. They just need to be compassionate, caring, motivated, and dedicated to you.

A health care professional is a good choice, but it’s not the only choice and it’s also not always possible.

It’s time consuming to be a good advocate.  Plan for a back-up advocate, as it’s hard to rearrange plans quickly. Regardless of who you choose, they need to have a good working relationship with you and your professionals.

Stay clear of choosing the most convenient person if you sincerely don’t feel they will help you.  Convenience isn’t always best!  Someone who is extremely anxious, poor communicators, aggressive, disorganized, horrified by medical procedures would not be a good choice. You need someone who can deal calmly.

Best Advocates

  • Trustworthy
  • Problem Solver
  • Calm
  • Compassionate
  • Caring
  • Motivated
  • Dedicated to YOU!

***Doesn’t need to be a healthcare professional, but if one is available that is a good choice if everything else fits.

Poor Advocates

  • Extremely anxious
  • Poor communicators
  • Aggressive
  • Disorganized
  • Horrified by medical procedures

Before you select an advocate help yourself by updating all the names and telephone numbers on a regular basis.  On your birthday every year celebrate by deleting old telephone numbers, editing names and numbers, and expressing your wishes so others know what you want. Talk so other hear what you are saying!

If you don’t have a Healthcare Power of Attorney, Financial Power of Attorney, and a Living Will or Trust it’s time to take control of your current situation and make sure things happen the way you would like them to. You would want to contact an attorney or search the internet to help with this process.

I am not qualified and am not giving legal advice, however I am suggesting these are documents that should be completed and you need to search all the proper documents through legal aid or a private attorney.

Have you been in a situation unexpectedly that another needed to be your advocate?  Did they do what you expected?  Did they have their own agenda?  Please share your comments to help others understand the importance of proper advocacy.

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

  1. wendy

    July 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I agree, this is very important. My husband is my health care advocate, and if something happens to me he has my health care power of attorney…ect. If something happens to both of us, we have set up a person we both trust to take care of things. And it’s important to set up an executor of your estate. We may not have much, but we want it to go where we want it to. When my mother died she didn’t have it set up as to who got what, and I know things were not done as she wanted. My husband and I have made sure that will not happen to us.

    thank you for bringing this to other’s attention.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      August 30, 2013 at 5:03 am

      It’s good to know you have all the arrangements in place. I wish more people did … it would make life simpler. Things like that should be taken care of before a crisis occurs. You have sent a fine example for others and I hope they will also follow your priorities. Take care and stay safe.


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