There is nothing worse than learning your loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic condition or a life threatening disease. We know just how suddenly this can happen to a family and have seen many of our clients quickly overwhelmed by all that is involved in caring for a loved one or family member.

When this happens your loved one may need you for emotional support but also to help him or her manage the challenges he or she will face. One big challenge will likely be navigating the healthcare maze which can be overwhelming.  We have seen many loved ones, in this scenario, step in to provide support and help.

Here are some key tips we give our clients, friends, professionals, and family, when it comes to acting as an effective advocate for your loved ones during this challenging time.


1. Learn the facts that impact your loved one.

Once you have identified the problem bearing in mind it may take time, learn as much as you can about it. Research is key. Your information should be gathered from trusted resources such as doctors, support groups, and pharmacists, but also independently. Trust your instincts and do not stop gathering information before you feel confident you have the knowledge you need.


2. Listen to what your loved one is saying.

Despite the course the condition “normally” takes or what your research says, nothing can take the place of what your loved one tells you. Listen to the symptoms, issues, concerns, and abnormalities that are going on. Also, listen to the successes your loved one is having combating any symptoms. Your active listening and compassion can make all the difference.


3. Start to Identify the problem.

Identifying the actual problem going on is invaluable. Keep in mind, it may not be easy at first. There may be multiple issues that factor in. If your loved ones is in pain, confused due to medication, or unable to make clear decisions due to a medical condition, it may be difficult to find the root of the problem. Do not let these complications hold you back from getting to the root of the problem.


4. Do not take “no” for an answer.

Whether it is from your loved one, care providers, doctors, pharmacies or others, do not settle. Unfortunately, our health care system today does not have those involved who may not be as invested as you need them to be to help your loved one. They also may not be experienced enough to make a difference. As the healthcare advocate part of your role is to make sure you get the results you need and are not sidelined by a “no” answer when you need a “yes”.


5. Legally Authorize decision makers.

When we face a challenge in our lives it is normal to ask a spouse, child or close friend to help us with our problem. While this may be a regular course of action for most of the challenges we face, it often will not be allowed in the healthcare industry without further legal planning. Strict health care rules, including those found in HIPAA, can create a significant barrier when you are trying to advocate for a loved one who lacks property planning. Fortunately, you can work with your estate planning attorney to create a life care plan to include powers of attorney, health care advance directives and HIPAA authorization forms right now to ensure this will not impact you and your loved ones.

Above all, the key is to be there for your loved one right now. We know it may not be easy. There will be times when you feel frustrated and need help overcoming a particular challenge. We encourage not to give up! We want you to know that we are here to answer questions and support you.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.


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