March 2024

Advocating For Yourself And Your Loved Ones

Here we highlight key tools and approaches to stay ahead of stress in challenging times. Read more about the proven strategies behind self-advocacy.

Why Is Advocacy Important?

By definition, an advocate is someone who speaks up for another person’s rights, needs, and best interests. In the context of illness, advocacy empowers you to navigate a complex medical system and ensure you or your loved one receives the best possible care. It’s about taking an active role in your health (or the health of your loved one), fostering open communication, and making informed decisions.

Element #1: Strong Communication

Open and honest communication forms the foundation for successful advocacy. Let’s explore a few ways to cultivate powerful communication. Practice active listening. Actively listen to your loved one’s concerns, anxieties, and hopes. Empathy and understanding go a long way in building trust and ensuring healthcare decisions align with their desires. Have “The Talk.” If possible, talk with your loved one about your wishes and preferences regarding treatment options if communication becomes difficult. Lastly, you can both feel empowered through information. Together, research your condition, treatment options, and potential side effects. Reliable resources like the National Institutes of Health or patient advocacy groups can be invaluable tools.

Element #2: Building a Strong Team

Your healthcare team is there to support you. It’s essential to feel comfortable and confident in their expertise. To foster a strong working relationship, you will need open communication, open-mindedness, and the strength to speak up when something is not working for you. Maintain open and honest communication with your doctor(s) and other healthcare providers. Share your concerns, preferences, and any questions you may have. Gather second opinions. You shouldn’t be afraid to seek second opinions, especially when faced with difficult treatment decisions. Different doctors may offer varying perspectives and approaches. Although you may initially feel awkward or uncomfortable, it is important to speak up if you are dissatisfied. If you’re uncomfortable with a particular treatment plan or approach, voice your concerns and work collaboratively with your healthcare team to find a solution that feels right for you or your loved one.

Element #3: Finding Balance 

The last point above leads us to our final element for a successful advocacy experience: self-care. Self-care is crucial for both you and your loved one throughout this journey. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries by saying “no” to additional tests or treatments if you feel overwhelmed.  Balance your advocacy efforts with the need for rest and recuperation. Additionally, seeking support from groups or mental health professionals can be invaluable in addressing emotional challenges and navigating stress.  Finally, celebrate even small victories along the way.  Staying positive has a demonstrably positive impact on both mental and physical well-being, making it an essential part of your journey towards better health.

Advocacy is an ongoing journey, not a one-time event. As your situation evolves, so too will your needs and questions.  Remember, it’s never too late to begin advocating for yourself or your loved one.  By remaining informed, fostering open communication, and working collaboratively with your healthcare team, you can make informed decisions and navigate the medical system with strength, confidence, and compassion.

If you begin to feel defeated, an expense-free Respite could be just what you need to restore and reset. Talk to your healthcare team about the possible benefits of a Respite, and then send us an application!