How to Be a True Advocate for Your Aging Mother

There are many blessings to being an adult and seeing your mother live well into her Golden Years. With that said, as your mom does grow older, you are apt to find yourself taking a larger role in her life. For example, you may be called upon to provide caregiver assistance to your mom. You may also need to be a true advocate for your mother as she lives her best life possible. There are several facts and factors, issues, and matters that you need to bear in mind when it comes to being a true advocate for your aging mother:

  • Engage your powers of observation
  • Use your organizational skills
  • Use your communication skills
  • Ask the right questions
  • Tenacity matters

Engage Your Powers of Observation

When it comes to being an effective advocate for your aging mother, you must engage and focus your powers of observation. The stark reality is that even the slightest shifts in your mother’s abilities, health, mood, safety needs, or desires can mark a more significant underlying health, physical, or mental change. By noticing these shifts early, you place yourself in the best possible position to be a truly effective advocate for your mom.

Equally important is maintaining a close eye on the services that your mother may be receiving at this time. You need to be able to gauge the effectiveness of these services. As you note, even slight shifts, like those mentioned a moment ago, you need to evaluate further whether the existing services utilized by your mom are sufficient to meet her needs.

There are some strategies that you can employ to enhance your observation over your mom and her needs. Indeed, the AARP has four primary suggestions regarding ways that you can sharpen your observational skills to become a better advocate for your mother:

  • Try to develop your observational skills through practices like mindfulness and meditation. These practices can help you become more aware and fully present in the current moment. Practice these techniques in a class, through yoga instruction, or with a mindfulness app.
  • Get adequate sleep to keep your mind clear.
  • Take notes on your observations about your mother, so you can track changes over time. If in-person interactions are limited, enlist a staff of an assisted living community or other long-term care facility or neighbors (if your mom lives alone) who are interacting with them to report back to you.
  • Use available technology. Phone calls help, but video calls via apps like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime can tell you more about subtle changes in your mom’s physical appearance and abilities. Try a remote monitoring system to track their movements at home and detect changes in routine. These can include alterations in routine, like staying in bed longer.

Use Your Organizational Skills

In order to be an optimal advocate for your mother, you need to take full advantage of your organizational skills and abilities. If you are your mom’s primary caregiver or the person in-charged of staying on top of a caregiving plan at an assisted living community, you face many issues and a multitude of moving parts.

As an advocate, you must make the most of your organizational skills to benefit your mother. This can include organizing paperwork, digital documents, schedules, and other items and matters. 

There are ways in which you can enhance and improve your organizational skills. These include.

  • Consider taking a course in organizing. You might also consider getting outside assistance. For example, other family members or friends might be able to help you. In addition, you can consider working with a professional organizer.
  • Technology options can be of assistance to organizing as well. For example, there are numerous apps to assist with organizing more generally. There are also apps explicitly designed to assist caregivers.
  • Make digital copies of key documents, such as medication lists, medical history, powers of attorney, living wills, and so forth. By taking this course, you can access them from your phone or tablet.

Use Your Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital in your role as an advocate for your mother. Through effective communication, you can build effective connections and relationships with those people who help care for and provide services for your mother.

When it comes to using your communication skills effectively, there are several tactics to employ, according to the AARP:

  • Be respectful. Try to set emotions aside when you are advocating for your mother. Remember that to communicate effectively, listening is just as important as speaking.
  • Do your homework before meetings with lawyers, medical professionals, and other providers of services for your mother. Prepare notes on what you want to discuss and have those notes ready. Be clear, concise, and get to the point.
  • To ease communication with busy professionals, find out who in their office handles business, including matters like appointments and billing. Build relationships with those specific staff members. Get to know how they prefer to communicate (phone, email, text, and so forth). Find out what is the best time of day to reach them. Be sure to always express appreciation.

Ask the Right Questions

To be an effective advocate for your mother in her Golden Years, you need to ask the right questions. As a caregiver, one of your primary tasks is to gather information. You cannot be shy about seeking information. There is no harm in asking questions. Harm can come by not asking.

There are some pointers to consider when asking questions as part of your asking questions on behalf of your mother:

  • Educate yourself about your loved one’s health conditions, finances, legal affairs, and other matters.
  • Be prepared with a list of questions for phone calls or meetings with facilities staff, doctors, and other professionals. Don’t give up until you are satisfied you’ve got the answers you need to advocate effectively. Never make assumptions. Always clarify if there is something that you do not fully understand.
  • If you hit a roadblock in arranging care or services, question it and think about other ways to achieve the goal. Sometimes, getting questions answered is all about asking the right person, be it a doctor, lawyer, accountant, or member of their staff.

Tenacity Matters

When it comes to being an effective advocate for your mother, tenacity – persistence – matters. More than a few people advocating for their senior parents have assumed that their role can best be described as the “chief bulldog.”

There are some points and pointers to ponder when it comes to being appropriately tenacious on behalf of your mother:

  • Be clear about goals. Be clear about what you think are proper solutions. Focus on the result you want on behalf of your mother.
  • Surround yourself with encouraging people who will pick you up and cheer you on.
  • Follow other caregivers’ stories so you hear about their triumphs and challenges.
  • Maintain a positive mindset. This absolutely is crucial. When caregiving knocks you down, get back up again. Resilience is part of the key to being a successful advocate for your mother in her senior years.

By incorporating the information and action practices in this article, you will be able to place yourself in a better position to be a truly effective advocate for your aging mother. You will be able to work towards effectively achieving those goals that are indeed important to your mother and her overall well-being.