What is advocacy?
Advocacy is defined as the act or process of supporting a cause. Advocacy is lending a voice to someone or something that is important to you. I believe the first cause we should believe in and support is that of our own individual health. If we take care of ourselves, we will be around to care for others. It is not a selfish approach, only one that keeps us around longer to serve our family and community.
The discussion of advocating for ourselves should begin with each of us having a detailed picture in our mind as we continue to age. Your plan should first begin with a little bit of visualization. Try to envision what your optimal life would be, including your living situation and health.
You should establish a clear picture in your mind as to what it looks like SPECIFIC TO YOUR SITUATION. As best as you can, try to capture this on paper (add to it as you review it more) so you can share it with the people who are important in your life and may be involved in your future.
This visualization will help you have a clearer picture of what your wishes are, but, also the focal point of how to create your plans and goals. You should have a complete understanding of your current health, as well as an understanding of your family health history. This is how we begin to better advocate for ourselves.
Once you have a plan in mind of how you would like your optimal life to be, sit down with your family members and others pertinent to your future. In a conversation with them detail what YOUR wishes are, and how you would like them to be involved. This is a time for your family to understand your wishes and their involvement. This is a time for them to offer any concern, if they have any. These can be addressed in the discussion.
Having this conversation with your family will help in moving forward toward living in the way you wish, and in unburdening your family in making certain critical decisions as you age. This plan will become the tool which your advocate uses to work toward the best outcomes for you.
This is the first step.