If you’re a caregiver for an older parent, you may have gotten comfortable in this role. You’ve created a routine where you feel confident in your abilities to schedule, clean, assist, and entertain. However, there may come a time when you and your family decide to move your parent into an assisted living community for more dedicated and professional care.
When this happens, your role quickly changes from being a caregiver to being an advocate—something that is new and uncharted territory for you. You’ve felt comfortable taking care of your parent at home, but being an advocate sounds like something completely out of your comfort zone. You hear words like “legal,” “financial,” and “medical” and may feel intimidated and overwhelmed.
HarborChase Senior Living offers senior care services to individuals and families throughout the United States. We know how important it is for older adults to have an advocate, someone who puts their best interests first, even when they can no longer do so themselves.
We also know that transitioning from a full-time caregiver to an advocate isn’t always a smooth and straightforward process for many family members. So we’re taking a look at how you can go from being the best caregiver to the best advocate for your mom or dad.
What Does It Mean to Be an Advocate?
Simply put, an advocate is someone who looks out for their family member’s best interests and ensures their loved one’s wishes are being met. This can include helping them navigate the medical system, manage their finances, get documents in order, and make sure they are not being scammed or taken advantage of.
Becoming an Effective Advocate
The transition from caregiver to advocate can happen in many different ways, including a move to an assisted living or memory care community. At this point, they are in a safe environment, cared for by compassionate professionals. You no longer need to worry about the ins and outs of their daily care. Still, it’s important that you stay informed and involved to ensure that they receive appropriate and high-quality care at all times, inside and outside their new community. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Be Familiar with Helpful Resources
There are countless resources online that share valuable information for older adults and caregivers or family members. Even if you are no longer your parent’s primary caregiver, bookmarking these resources can help you stay up-to-date on all things senior care.
Some resources we recommend include AARP, Family Caregiver Alliance, National Institute on Aging, and the Alzheimer’s Association for individuals with dementia. We also recommend subscribing to the blog or Facebook page of the community where your parent lives.
Now that you have stepped back as the caregiver, you can step up as the daughter/son. Every time you visit your parent, observe their mood, physical appearance, diet, and the overall atmosphere of the community. By staying actively involved, you can ensure they continue to receive quality care and step in should anything need to be addressed or evaluated.
To ensure your family member’s physical health needs are met, it can be helpful for you to join them for their medical appointments. Always speak candidly with your parent and their healthcare provider about their health condition(s), treatments, medications, options, and more. In addition, it can be helpful to bring a notebook to all appointments so you can keep track of what the doctor says and not forget any questions you may have had.
When you have everything you need, and it’s all in the right place, managing your parent’s senior care and other information becomes significantly easier. Create a file folder (ideally with a digital backup) that holds all your parent’s paperwork regarding health, finances, legal matters, contracts with their assisted living community, and anything else.
Separate these into categories and organize them with labels or color-coding to ensure everything is in the right place. Finally, don’t forget to establish a power of attorney earlier than you might think so that you have access to what you need when you need it.
Protecting Your Parent
While there is much more to being an advocate than we have listed, these steps are a good start to get you comfortable making the transition. Being an effective advocate is vital in ensuring that your parent receives the care they need and deserve.
If you have found yourself in the situation of needing senior care for your parent, HarborChase Senior Living is here for you. Offering assisted living and other care services at over 30 communities across the U.S.; we deliver dedicated and professional care and world-class hospitality services.
We treat each resident as family and work hard to create meaningful days based on personal preferences. We work closely with our residents’ families to implement successful care plans and are always willing to include family members, caregivers, and other advocates in a resident’s care.