The how, when and where of using an Advocate.
We all know there are times when we are either so sick or so depressed we just want someone else to answer these questions we have answered a thousand times. This person could be anyone at that point who will just take the ball out of our court. I do understand, but this is not the time to bring in someone new to our situation and allow them to begin acting for us. We need to begin this process far earlier and with concise thought and planning.
Having the right Advocate can allow for better health sooner, just because we can concentrate on our health and not on the many questions that need answers. When we are struggling to just get our head above water due to being so sick or so overwhelmed with life and sickness, just knowing there is someone to help is an enormous relief.
All this said; the Advocate must be the right person for us. We need to feel confident and comfortable having them help us. This is very possible our main reason for looking and finding someone now. Even some family members are not who we are looking for, there maybe a difference in values or religious beliefs; we may have a special belief and therefore need someone who understands this need. Possibly the greatest need is for this person to put aside their own beliefs, values and everyday thoughts and only act on ours. They must understand and be able to address these just as strongly as they would their own. This is not just any person; this is a very special person.
Before providing written certification that this is the person we should have a number of conversation to be sure this match is truly a good one. We must remember our life may depend on this person and our relationship. Many people, professionals and everyday Joe/Jane are looking for the right person. Family members may not be the right fit, perhaps due to fundamental differences or just a desire not to have this role. So what do we do?
We can hire an Advocate. They may come with a title of Case Manager, Geriatric Case Manager, Personal Advocate or others. But how do we know which is the right one for us? First, I think it is wise to do a background check, anyone can do this today on the Internet and this is a great starting point. We also need to use our ‘gut reaction’, if there is just not the right feel or a feel of this won’t work, go with that feeling and move on to the next person. This brings us to references, keep in mind rarely will we get a bad reference; we need to listen for the between-the-lines information. If the courts have appointed the person (in a similar situation) we are checking into, then do a little information searching. We do not have to pay to talk to a Lawyer we can just seek the information from the County Clerk’s Office Staff or the staff of a local attorney. The most telling question is ‘Would you hire this person for your advocate or for your Mom’s advocate?’ And again be very aware of your initial reaction to the conversation or person. We all have an intuitive reaction to people and this is the reaction that keeps us a live.
Now sit down with the person being considered for an advocate. Talk with them and get their reactions to important questions you have. Ask the hard questions, are they aware of our religious protocols regarding medicine. Are they current on medical procedures in general and are they willing to say ‘No’ to a medical provider. This is very important, for instance, many people today have had more than one stay in a hospital, and rarely do we get there without an IV. However, as we age it becomes hard and harder to find the right place to put in the needle. And frequently we will have one site that is a ‘do not use’ because it is readily accessible in a life or death emergency. But someone must ask the medical providers not to use it; this is part of an Advocate’s work for us. This is just one of many examples which we have and/or will have.
When hiring an Advocate how do we pay? This is another good question. How many times do we go to the emergency room and wait for hours to be seen, do we want to pay for someone sitting and keeping us company? We need them there but do we want to pay for the convenience of just sitting there and looking at each other. The problem is we do need them there just as we do when going to a medical appointment or medical procedure. This is how they are on top of what is and has been going on with us medically and can answer questions and make decisions that are educated. This is the scenario I see as the best for the payment of the Advocate. Look at our medical schedule currently, take that number of visits (any medical appointment) of a calendar year, add one or more per month depending on your health and divide by 12. Now set an hourly amount and multiple by 12 and that will be the basic cost of the Advocate. Keep in mind that at any time the contract can be terminated or renegotiated should there be a need. This amount can be paid on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Please make note we are not paying on a per need basis, then we do not have a concern regarding an emergency run to the hospital and our Advocate having an ethical out in our contract because they are with another client. The extra amount of time we are paying each month will pan-out over the year or we can have a clause in the contract to roll those funds into the next year.
Next time: Let’s look at paid for services and the scams that are scares for us.