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August 08, 2012

The Importance of Older Adults Finding an Advocate

If you are ever admitted to the hospital, it is imperative that you have someone on your side: someone who is inquisitive, knows your medical history, and understands your wishes. It is important that you have an advocate. Unfortunately, with today’s managed care and the pressure put on medical professionals, we cannot always assume that everything is being done as it should be or that our wishes will automatically be followed. Someone needs to speak for you when you cannot.

Who Makes the Best Advocate?

The best advocate would be someone who is close to you who knows your medical history and condition, and also someone whom you trust. Someone who understands how hospitals work is also a plus. Perhaps it is a spouse or family member. A trustworthy neighbor or a caregiver could also fill this role. Most importantly, your advocate must be aggressive and not be afraid to ask questions about the decisions made in regards to your care. Advocates should ask questions such as:

  • Why does this procedure or surgery have to be performed?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Where can I get a second opinion?

An advocate does not necessarily need to be at the hospital with you around the clock, but should be available to take phone calls from medical staff or receive information at any time.


Type or legibly handwrite a list of all of the medications you are taking and the time you take each drug during the day. Make a copy for yourself, your advocate and one for your wallet or purse. Keep this list accurate and up to date at all times. Many older adults are often taking some sort of antidepressant but often forget to mention it when they are admitted to the hospital. It is important to note this on your medication list so you do not become restless or agitated during your stay at the hospital. It is also important that doctors know everything you are taking so they can avoid reactions.

The Paper Work

Before you ever need an advocate, make sure you have someone with permission to get your medical information (this is different than power of attorney). Under the Health Information Privacy Act of 1999 (HIPA), people must be authorized to receive medical information about you. Hospitals, as well as Kendal at Home, can provide the appropriate forms for you.

To learn more about Kendal at Home and how a care coordinator can act as your advocate, contact us today. Kendal at Oberlin staff also serve as advocates for residents during times of need. To learn more about living at Kendal at Oberlin, schedule a tour today.

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