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Advocacy & Older Americans

By on May 8th, 2019

By Jamie Huysman, PsyD, LCSW

The month of May is here again, and once more we celebrate Older Americans all month long.

To become an older American is a right of passage. It signifies that we have life experience worthy of a transitional moniker. While getting older is not something we all do gracefully, there comes the point where the majority—certainly not all—of us realize this new coming of age brings certain limitations with it. We simply don’t bounce back the way we used to; illness starts hitting us a little harder and recovery takes a little longer.

Thanks to all the family caregivers who have fought the good fight to be recognized as advocates for their loved ones, many of them are older Americans themselves.

Older Americans come in all shapes, sizes, colors, mindsets, cultural differences, educational backgrounds, language barriers, etc. Some of us have learned to accept our limitations, and some of us will fight their very existence and ignore them to the end. There are among us those who have cultivated patience and understanding, while others have given up, become bitter, or exist in depression and isolation.

Caregivers and family members aside, at times additional medical advocacy is called for. The fact is that different departments in certain medical systems are not designed or set up for communicating with each other; they share data, but not information. There is a lack of overall coordination, oversight, and understanding. This is where case managers become essential for those who are, for whatever reason, are not capable of advocating for themselves. Navigating today’s continuum of care can be tricky. Caregivers should never be afraid to ask for help in advocating for their loved ones if they need it. A good case manager knows how to put the whole picture together.

If you are an older American, I celebrate us. If you are not, I hope you look forward to being one. Take good care of yourselves and each other, my friends!

Dr. Jamie is a popular keynote speaker, media expert, and author. He co-authored the acclaimed “Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health & Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss.” Dr. Huysman writes for Caregiver SOS, Connections, JoanLunden.com, Huddol.com, and blogs on PsychologyToday.com.

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