4 Reasons Why Seniors Need a Health Advocate

Your health is perhaps the greatest asset you can possess. It’s the gift on which all others depend. However, as we age, maintaining strength, wellness, and vitality can become increasingly difficult.

Unfortunately, for many seniors, successfully utilising the healthcare system to optimise health and longevity can be a formidable challenge. From scheduling appointments to engaging effectively with clinicians to making informed healthcare decisions, the process of securing the best medical care possible can be arduous at best.

Healthcare advocates, however, can make the process of navigating the healthcare labyrinth far easier and more effective. This article examines the top reasons why seniors need a healthcare advocate.

Top 4 reasons...

1. Managing Appointments

One of the most significant challenges seniors can face in regard to their healthcare rests simply in the scheduling of appointments. Preventative testing, follow-up appointments, and consultations with specialists often increase in frequency and importance as we age.

However, because it often takes weeks or months to see a physician or schedule a test, it can be difficult for seniors to keep track of essential appointments. A healthcare advocate can assist seniors in making appointments, ensuring that routine screenings are conducted in a timely manner, and providing appointment reminders. Advocates can also assist with arranging transportation to and from appointments for those who need it.

2. Supporting Health Literacy

Let’s face it: no matter how good the rapport is between you and your physician, it can often feel as if the doctor is speaking an entirely different language. Enlisting the support of a trusted friend or relative, or hiring a professional advocate, can help seniors both understand and retain the information their healthcare provider has given them.

For instance, patient advocates can support patients in cultivating health literacy. This might include, for example, educating patients on test results and medical diagnoses. They can also provide information on treatment options to assist them in making informed decisions regarding their care.

Indeed, the use of a health advocate to support health literacy is likely among the greatest benefits an advocate provides. According to a recent study of nearly 2,400 British adults, nearly 20% report that they have experienced difficulty in understanding or interpreting written medical information. A health advocate can help seniors overcome this pervasive challenge.

  1. 3. Enhancing Doctor/Patient Interactions

No matter who you are or how well educated you may be in regard to health and wellness, the clinical encounter is almost always fraught with anxiety for patients. Those who are facing a health challenge may find it particularly difficult to summon the physical, mental, or emotional reserves needed to have a candid and comprehensive conversation with their medical team.

A trusted health advocate can be a patient’s voice when the patient is unable to speak for him/herself. For instance, an advocate may be able to take note of and discuss concerning symptoms that the patient may not have noticed or may have dismissed.

Varicose veins, for example, may be readily dismissed as a byproduct of ageing. However, when they are accompanied by significant pain, loss of function, numbness, or swelling, they may indicate a more severe condition requiring prompt treatment. Advocates can help seniors monitor their health status and identify and discuss potential health concerns with the care team.

  1. 4. Implementing Prevention and Treatment Plans

For many of us, the effort to maintain our health increases as we age. Seniors who have never before required daily medication, a specialised diet or exercise programme, or frequent clinical evaluations may quickly become overwhelmed by the demands their health condition has placed on them.

An advocate can help seniors manage the day-to-day challenges of managing a health concern. This might include, for instance, ensuring that seniors are taking their medication as prescribed or eating the balanced diet their physician has recommended. In addition, an advocate can help ensure that seniors are attending all their appointments, receiving all their screenings, and getting the physical activity they need.

The Takeaway

There are few things more important in life than good health. As we age, however, wellness is no longer a default state. It is a goal that requires effort and commitment. Cultivating good health and navigating the medical system is no mean feat, though. In fact, for many seniors, cultivating a healthy lifestyle can be formidably challenging. This is particularly true when it comes to managing medical appointments, implementing preventative health protocols, and adhering to prescribed treatment plans.

A health advocate can be a powerful ally in a senior’s fight to maintain, or return to, health. Advocates can support ageing patients by scheduling and tracking appointments, increasing health literacy, addressing health concerns with the medical team, and complying with treatment and prevention protocols. No matter whether the health advocate is a trusted friend, a family member, or a professional, the ultimate objective is to ensure that seniors never have to walk the path to wellness alone.

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