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Five Values Families Need for Effective Health Advocacy


Parents need to know their adult children will, to the best of their ability, ensure they receive appropriate care in a hospital, assisted living, or skilled nursing residence. They hope their kids will look out for their safety without diminishing their autonomy and independence, but enough to keep them safe.


Adult children cannot advocate effectively without knowing, their parents’ health care goals and values and are aware of their parents state of health. They should have copies of their parents’ general power of attorney (POA), advance directive, and are named as ‘attorneys-in-fact’ (or proxies) for health-related decision making. This means parents and their adult children have had “The Conversation” about these matters. They grasp that “The Conversation” is a process in which adult children understand and agree to carry out their parent’s wishes, especially their end-of-life expectations. And Mom and Dad are confident that they will do so.


Parents need assurance that if they call their children from a hospital emergency room at 2 AM informing them that Dad had a stroke or Mom broke her hip, the children will:
engage with hospital’s medical staff; inform them of their POA status, and state they want to be continually up-dated on their parent’s condition.

If they live out of town, they may have to travel to be at their parents’ side to make sure their parents receive the best possible care, both in the hospital and after discharge.


Adult children, for example, know the difference between being admitted into a hospital and entered for observation. They know who their parents’ doctors are and how to contact them. They know the results of their parents’ annual physicals and
their medication regimen. They are aware of senior resources in their parents’ community and whether their parents know about them and utilize them.”


Parents hope their adult children WILLINGLY accept their advocacy roles. That they aren’t being dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into their roles. That they will communicate with their parents and with their siblings not just when it hits the fan, but on a regular, predictable basis, be it weekly or even daily.

Sig Cohen

Solutions Through Compassionate Communication

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