GetHealthHelp

A Patient Advocate's View

Who will be there for you?

imagesCA95WNRFI often act as health care proxy and power of attorney for my clients.  I always make it clear that I am a Patient Advocate, not a family member. Yet, every time I speak to someone at the hospital or any care setting at all, the people constantly refer to ‘My Mom.’

Do they think they are reaching me at some level, where I will turn off my business sense and burst out in tears of thankfulness for their sensitivity. Surely they say this to everyone, like when the home health aide says “I treat everyone like my grandmother?”

I have several clients who are in their early seventies. They seem more like friends to me, since we are all baby boomers. They are nothing like my mother, who went to high school during WWII and lived through the depression. Their hair has less grey in it than mine! Yet, people still refer to them as ‘Your Mom’ when we are talking about their care.

Some of my clients have their own children, who have hired me because they want a professional to help them to navigate the complex and fragmented health care system. Some of the people have hired me themselves, because they are used to delegating to professionals or because they have hit a wall with the long-term care bureaucracy.  They need someone to take care of business, not another child.

My mother was an executive secretary to a Supreme Court Judge. She also ran political campaigns and was the go to person when something happened in the neighborhood. She knew the bankers, the lawyers and the chiefs of whatever you needed.  After she passed, many of her neighbors told me that they would miss her counsel more than anything.  Even when I had to invoke her health care proxy, I didn’t think of myself as being the decision maker. I was simply carrying out her wishes. I wasn’t the ‘child’, I was the person who she had placed her faith in to convey her preferences.

As professionals, we often talk about the importance of preplanning.  As we move into a time when long-term care will be ‘Managed’ along the lines of our health insurance plans, I ask you to consider the terminology that will be used to refer to the person receiving the care. Will it be the ‘user’, ‘the consumer’, or ‘your Mom’?  I hope it will be the ‘individual’ with all the rights and choices that come along with the title.

February 4, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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