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Supporting Our Caregivers

You Are the Advocate for Your Family Member

John Schall

CEO, Caregiver Action Network

Is your loved one getting the best care possible? How to ask the right questions and speak up for your family member’s healthcare goals.

Family caregivers want their loved ones to have the best care possible everywhere they are — at the doctor’s office, at the hospital, and at home. And the best way to get them the best care is to be their advocate.

How to be an advocate

Being your loved one’s advocate means asking a lot of questions. You know them better and spend more time with them than anyone else, and your influence can play an important role in helping decide on a care plan. Ask your loved one what their goals are for treatment and for their care in general. Being clear about desired objectives and outcomes can help ensure they get the care they really want.

Look at all the options

Is your loved one responding well to treatment? If not, ask their doctor if there are other options. New treatments are available every day, whether it’s a different dose, a new medication, or a new procedure. It’s important to speak up and find out if your loved one’s treatment is the best one for their goals.


Ask the questions

Ask as many questions about your loved one’s condition as possible. Keep in mind, however, that the internet is a great research tool, but it is also full of conflicting and even dangerous advice. So, be curious about everything you read. Is it from a reliable source? Is the information corroborated in other articles?

When in the hospital, always ask what happens next. Will your loved one need home care after being discharged? Are there new medications or procedures you will need to manage at home? Will you be trained on what to do and how to do it? A lot of care happens at home and you need to be prepared to provide that care effectively.

Double-check insurance

Don’t be shy about double-checking insurance coverage, too. Is your loved one’s current plan the best option for them, or should you consider a change? Was a needed medication switched for a medical reason, or because their insurance plan no longer covered it? If coverage was denied, what can you do to change their minds? Family caregiving is stressful, but remember, knowledge is power! The more you know, the more you’re able to confidently provide the best care for your loved one.  

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