If you’re new to the role of caregiving, advocacy is one of the most important items on the list for a caregiver.

When a loved one is incapable of making decisions, or speak at all for themselves, this is where you advocate on their behalf.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. There is no one better to advocate for your loved one than you, their caregiver. You might be thinking you’re intimidated to speak up because a doctor or other healthcare professional might think you lack the intelligence to understand what they want to implement into the healthcare plan they’re presenting. Honestly, the professionals will not think anything of the sort. On the contrary, they welcome your ideas and the fact that you’re taking an invested interest in your loved one’s care plan.

Maybe your personality is passive and timid when it comes to speaking up so you just go with whatever the professionals say, even though it goes against your best judgement. Please! Do not let this get in the way of making the best decision for your loved one, you will regret it as soon as you give in. Is the thought going through your head right now, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” Change your thought pattern right now to, “when the going gets tough, get going making tough decisions“.

No one ever says caregiving is easy! It’s one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. It’s energy depleting. It’s not always pleasant. It never says thank you, and it comes with criticism. Sometimes it feels like a no-win situation and you want to just cave and do whatever the professionals “tell” you you need to do. Don’t fall into the trap of self pity thinking you know nothing, you’re not the professional.

Think about when your parents were raising you. They advocated for you all through your growing up years, and at times probably into adulthood. They were thinking about your best interests keeping you safe not just at home, but in school, or in outside activities. Now it’s your turn to think of what’s in their best interests. Yes, caregiving is a role reversal; you become the parent.

There were many times during my caregiving years with my mother I had to stand up and advocate for her and not just with her care plan. I had to intercede with nurses and aids to do the right thing for her, otherwise it was like a cookie cutter job where everyone was cared for in the exact same way. Our loved ones are not exactly like the other person receiving care. They all have distinct qualities and needs that should be met. So speak up. Advocate.

When you learn to advocate you’re not only helping your loved one, but you’re helping yourself understand the role of a caregiver and you become much more effective in that role. You learn that being strong will keep you from being taken advantage of. What? Someone might try to take advantage of your situation? YES! Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. There are a few people in the healthcare world that will test the water and see if you are capable of handling the caregiver role, and if you give in, you will surely be taken advantage of. This is rare, but it does happen.

Think about all the things you want in your loved ones care and act on it by being their advocate.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them…”

Deuteronomy 31:6

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