In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s plenty to worry about between work and school, children and loved ones, home life and work life. With so much going on, it’s hard for scores of Americans to devote too much of their time on any one thing and sometimes that includes loved ones, especially those who may be sick or elderly.
In the past 10-15 years, healthcare advocacy has become one of the most important parts of the healthcare. Why? People who work in healthcare advocacy help those in need navigate the healthcare, insurance and job systems to help people get the care they need.
This is especially true of seniors. Between 2015 and 2050, it’s estimated the number of people aged 60 and older will double from 12% to 22%. With such a big jump expected, people working in healthcare advocacy will play even more important roles in the lives of elderly folks.
With that in mind, here are five ways a healthcare advocacy worker can help those in need:
- Legal help: If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious illness, chances are good there are medical bills and costs involved. Many patients who suffer from serious illness aren’t in good enough condition to arrange power of attorney or make important financial and legal decisions.
That’s where a patient advocate can help. A patient advocate can help a patient understand legal documents, arrange meetings with attorneys and patiently explain to someone what legal steps they have to take for certain situations.
- Managing Medications: It’s estimated that 29% of American adults take at least five medications. That’s a lot to keep track of, especially for the elderly. Taking so many pills a day requires a daily regimen with certain pills being taken at certain times. Trying to keep track of all that can be a headache for anyone. Patient advocates can help those in need keep all their pills and pill schedules in order and make sure they get whatever necessary treatment they need.
- Better Understanding: When a person gets a serious medical diagnosis such as cancer, that can be very hard news to take, no matter who delivers it. Getting such a diagnosis is not only hard to take emotionally, but it can be very difficult to understand all the medical circumstances surrounding the illness.
A healthcare advocate can be a calm, steady presence. For patients, they can act as a go-between for them and a provider. They can also ask questions about a patient’s steps for treatment and explain treatments, tests, test results and self-care tips to patients in a way that’s easy for them to understand.
- Dealing With Employers: Serious illnesses can prevent patients from returning to work and there can be a lot to untangle in those situations. A patient may be unsure of what they’re supposed to tell an employer and an employer might be overwhelmed, especially if there’s not an HR department.
Once again, those working in healthcare advocacy can be very beneficial. They can communicate with an employer about a patient’s illness, when they might be able to return to work or anything else related to the job. A healthcare advocate can also help deal with insurance questions as they relate to employment.
- Better Logistics: One of the biggest benefits of healthcare advocacy is improved practical logistics. Many patients, especially cancer patients, require testing, treatment and changes in medications.
Patient care advocacy can help a patient or a family keep track of everything from keeping a calendar to scheduling different appointments, keeping track of treatment plans and testing and making arrangements for transportation when necessary. Advocates can be there to help with paperwork too, helping patients and families deal with insurance companies and medical centers.
As healthcare becomes more and more complicated, healthcare advocacy is becoming more and more important, especially when it comes to providing elder care service. Having a patient care advocate to help navigate through the complex webs of paperwork, medical treatments and medication can make everyday life easier for patients and their families.