Women – Find Your Inner Warrior

By on September 25, 2016

Women are typically the caregivers in our lives, a natural role we fill as mothers. As the “mama bear” for our children, we are the accepted experts. We also have legal rights for our voice, carrying the weight needed to influence decisions.

But, what happens to our opinion when we become the designated voice for an aging adult? Why does it weaken, become less intense? Maybe it’s because we are not protecting our baby cubs – not being driven by that fierce maternal instinct.

Don’t let that happen to you! Renew your inner warrior. When we become advocates for our aging loved ones, the role can go on for many years. And we can use these years to hone our expertise.

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Advocating is how we make a difference for those we love. Standing big and being heard should not be influenced by our sex, or size, or status. It’s directly correlated to how much we care.

Although I have never reached a hundred pounds in my life (pregnancy aside), I learned to go nose-to-nose with anyone when advocating for a patient, regardless of my opponent’s size or position.

Through the years, I’ve seen the smartest of women shrink when facing an uncertain medical situation. The secret is that you don’t have to fully understand the rules and regulations, which are often just some bureaucracy’s list of all the reasons that you can’t get what you want. Don’t allow explanations to derail you. Others may know the rules; you know what you want for your family member.

Learn to Advocate for Your Aging Loved Ones

Go with your gut. Speak up when something might hurt the one you are trying to protect. You may or may not be successful every time but the effort will gradually give life to your inner warrior, to call upon whenever you need to advocate for someone or something.

And the times you are successful will make the fight worthwhile.

Hospitalizations can be especially challenging. When the time comes to transition a patient from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, the nursing home selection criteria is like musical chairs: The patient goes via medical transport to the first nursing facility with an empty bed. It could be the best or the worst facility in town, but it’s where the patient lands once the bed availability is confirmed—but not my patients.

I slow down the process to make the selection based on the verified quality of care delivered. That is the right of every patient and the role of every advocate. You can do the same.

If things are moving too quickly, too slowly, or just don’t make sense, feel free to roar. Advocating doesn’t take special training or knowledge. It takes caring, common sense, communication, perseverance, and the nerve to step on the brakes when hasty decisions are made.

Your expertise grows from practice and learning from mistakes. Remember: Success is often built on a pile of failures. When you fail, you then know better what doesn’t work. Celebrate your learning curve and be kind to yourself along the journey.

Onward to advocate.

Debbie Pearson is the author of the forthcoming book, Age Your Way: Gather Your Information. Document Your Wishes. Avoid the Unthinkable. It will be followed later in the fall by the publication of the Age Your Way Blueprint, a step by step guide to documenting your wishes. For the past four decades, Debbie has run toward trouble, rather than away, for families in the Austin, Texas area. She lives in Austin with her husband, Hank.

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Women – Find Your Inner Warrior