Saturday, April 26, 2008

How to be a Health Advocate for a Loved One


I have been dealing with a personal family illness and it reminded me of a blog I did last year. I went back to review it and realized it is pretty damn good advise. I'm repeating it here for readers who may just now be reading EverythingHealth.

Five Things You Can Do for a Sick Loved One

When a loved one is sick, we often feel totally helpless and caught up in the medical world. If people only knew how important their role as caregiver really is. Credit goes to Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, for these wonderful tips on how to fight for and protect a sick loved one.
  • Don't be afraid to intervene: If you see something going on that strikes you as wrong, say so. A medication that you've never seen before, a dressing that remains after a doctor said it would be removed, IVs that should be given on a regular schedule. It's OK to push and not accept the first answer.

  • Ask Questions until you understand the answer: If the doctor says surgery is needed and you don't understand why or when or how...ask. If explanations are given in terms that make no sense..push until you understand.

  • You know things that the doctors don't: You know if your loved one is in pain, has been bleeding longer than the doctor thinks, is shy and won't talk or hundreds of other facts that the medical folks just can't know. Share information...it might be important to healing.

  • Temper your loved one's enthusiasm for quick fixes: Pain and anxiety can affect the way a patient hears the doctor. It is OK to ask for a 2nd opinion, look at alternative treatments or just stop and discuss. Be the advocate with the clear mind.
  • Scope out the nurses: The nurses are the ones that see it all. They know the details of tests, timing and the ins and outs of the complicated hospital environment. The nurse can often interpret things for you if you didn't follow rule #2. Nurses are the patient's second best advocate after you, so partner with them.
The patient without a significant loved one at their side is at a clear disadvantage. I am always happy to see family gathered around when I round on a hospital patient because I know we are all working together for a common goal.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

VERY IMPORTANT and EXCELLENT article you wrote!!!
I was in situations where I was a caregiver and advocate for family members, and have done some of the exact things you mentioned, that in certain situations made a positive difference in their care.
I remember reading your article and thank you for repeating it.
Kellie

Anonymous said...

VERY IMPORTANT and EXCELLENT article you wrote!!!
I was in situations where I was a caregiver and advocate for family members, and have done some of the exact things you mentioned, that in certain situations made a positive difference in their care.
I remember reading your article and thank you for repeating it.
Kellie

Rich said...

Thanks for reposting this Toni -some good advice here.

And don't forget about support groups for caregivers as I feel that's an imortant resource for people struggling to maintain their own lives as well as caring for their loved one's.

JoB said...

Dear Dr. Toni, Thank you for the thoughtful and caring advice for all of us who are caregivers.

pcsolotto said...

To the owner of this blog, how far youve come?