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Advocating For An Older Relative: How You Can Help

  • November 4, 2021

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Advocating For An Older Relative

Are you advocating for an older relative?

We tend to acknowledge that in life, there is a social contract. We have the help of others when we are young, and can then help out as we get older. Then, as we move into the latter stages of our lives and are in a position to need help again, we often receive it from those we have helped before. At some stage during your life, the chances are that you will be in a position where you are caring for an elderly relative in retirement - possibly, but not necessarily, a parent.

A major part of this caring role is wrapped up in advocacy. Throughout life, we need to stay on top of admin and, for one reason or another, this gets harder as we reach a certain age. One of the most welcome things you can do for an older relative is to advocate for them where necessary: this is an often demanding role, but it is comforting to know that you are lifting this burden from the shoulders of someone about whom you care.

Keep an eye out

One of the primary aspects of advocating for someone is simply keeping watch as they deal with things, and seeing where they need help as well as where they don’t. Retaining a modicum of independence and activity is important for adults who are keen to keep mental decline at bay, so it is vitally important not to impose a care routine based on your assumptions. If it is clear that some areas are a struggle and your help would be beneficial, be prepared to offer - but seek to do it by agreement above all else.

Related content to advocating for an older relative:

Delegate, rather than accumulate, responsibilities

Carer fatigue is an unfortunate outcome that can arise when a carer takes on all the responsibilities of looking after someone else. We can all only do so much, and delegation is of fundamental importance in caring. Being able to call on a good elder law attorney can be vital, as bills and legal complexities begin to accumulate. Hiring a personal trainer, a cleaner or a gardener can release you from needing to carry out these tasks if there are other, more private concerns you need to focus on. Don’t try to do it all on your own - the only sure outcome of that decision will be you becoming too fatigued to do any of it as effectively as you’d want.

Agree on a course of action with your loved one

There are two things that will definitely happen when you agree to look after and advocate for anyone, but especially an older relative. One, at some point they will frustrate you and you’ll find it hard to bite back that annoyance. Two, you will do precisely the same to them. That’s inevitable: you’re humans who are sharing a space and you may well have differing opinions on how things should be done. So cover this before formally starting any stint as a carer/advocate. Acknowledge that you both might get wound up and promise that you’ll come to your senses before it has the chance to foul the atmosphere, because you’re on the same side - and that’s the most important thing.

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