How to Advocate for the Person You Care for


How to Advocate for the Person You Care for

As a caregiver, you may become an advocate for the loved one in your care. You could find yourself speaking with healthcare providers or insurance providers on their behalf and making decisions about what kind of care they receive.

Being an advocate is an important responsibility. You might be unsure of how to best work with healthcare or insurance providers, especially if you’ve recently become a caregiver. The tips below can help prepare you to advocate for your loved one in the most effective way possible.

Learn about your loved one’s condition

If your loved one has a certain illness or condition, research it. You certainly don’t need to know everything about it. But learning the facts can help you familiarize yourself with the language you might hear your loved one’s healthcare team use. This will not only help you feel more in control as an advocate, but it can also improve communication.

Prepare for doctor visits or phone calls

It can be hard to remember everything you want to ask, especially if you feel pressed for time. If you have questions prepared ahead of time, you’ll be sure to get answers. And writing down those answers means you can refer back to them later on. When emotions are running high, it can be easy to forget what the doctor said about a certain medication or treatment option, even a few minutes later. A written record of your visit – even just a few quick notes – can help put your mind at ease.

The same guidelines apply when you’re dealing with insurance providers. Write down questions ahead of time, and jot down notes as you go. If you’re placing a call to an insurer, have information about your loved one, such as their birth date and insurance policy information, at the ready.

Ask questions until you understand the information

Don’t settle for information that’s less than clear to you. Remember that you might rely on this information to make decisions for your loved one, so it’s important to understand what you’re hearing from a healthcare or insurance provider. Be persistent. If you didn’t understand something, it’s okay to ask for clarification or to request a more thorough explanation. You should feel empowered to speak up.

Carve out dedicated time to call insurance providers

These calls can take more time than you think they should, so try to make them when you know you won’t be interrupted. Don’t try to squeeze a call in between meetings at work, for example. It may take a while to be connected with a person, so do your best to be patient.

Be polite

Remember that healthcare providers and insurers are dealing with emotional, overwhelmed patients and customers every day. While it’s okay to express frustration when you’re feeling it, remember that being level headed and polite will go a long way toward helping you get the information and answers you need. Be pleasant, but assertive.

This is the ninth of a ten-part Caring Conversation blog series that provides caregivers with inspiration, resources, and useful tips. Caring Conversation blogs are produced through a partnership with Lilly for Better Health.

Other posts in the series:

Caring Conversations: A Lilly for Better Health and Partnership

Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays

Caring Conversations: How to talk with family about caregiving

Caring Conversations: Who is a caregiver?

Caring Conversations: Tax Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring Conversations: Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Caring Conversations: How To Build A Supportive Caregiving Community

Caring Conversations: How To Help A Caregiver

Caring Conversations: A Caregiver's Guide To Elder Law

Lilly for Better Health is also having Caring Conversations with Joy’s House. You can listen to the first and second installments online.

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