Haims: The rewards of helping others (column) | VailDaily.com

Haims: The rewards of helping others (column)

Judson Haims
Valley Voices

One of the things I have learned over the years from managing Visiting Angels is the most important and life-changing service we provide is advocating. Advocating for someone who cannot, or has difficulty using their voice to get the medical attention and services needed, is incredibly rewarding.

As our population ages, many of us will find that ourselves, our friends, and our families will be placed in a position where we are providing some or all of the care for an elder loved one. Therefore, it is important that we educate ourselves with best practices information along with key legal and medical documents that will aid us in our advocacy.

As we grow older, so too have our parents. While they once may have been a source of strength, emotional support, and nurturing, there does come a point where the roles may reverse. When the time comes that you need to take care of them and help them manage their days, I hope you will embrace he opportunity to give back.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being prepared when the need arises to advocate for a loved one. The time spent preparing will make dramatic differences in your loved one’s well-being.

An effective advocate does not take over someone’s decision making. Rather, an effective advocate listens to and attempts to understand the needs and desires of the person they are assisting. When advocating for someone, it’s a good idea to make sure that:

  • The person you are assisting is in agreement with your offer to help.
  • You make every effort to include the person in the process.
  • You are able to explain and convey information in a manner that is understood by the person you are helping.
  • That you are able to convey the needs, desires, and potential health concerns of the person you are helping.
  • You can effectively collaborate and share information amongst family, friends, and medical providers.

Regardless of whom you are assisting, whether it’s a parent, family member, or friend, one of the first tasks you should initiate is learning about the importance of documents such as advance directives and powers of attorney for both legal and health matters. 

A discussion about these documents should be had early in the advocacy process. These documents provide for a clear and concise decision-making process. Not having such documents in place can lead to situations where access to medical and legal information is not being freely shared. 

Our Visiting Angels office fields many calls from people of all ages looking for not only help within the home but also for help finding help. Please feel free to reach out to us, we are always happy to be a free resource.

The following organizations can be quite helpful in assisting with advocacy and education:

Advocating for a loved one is honorable. While not always easy, it can be rewarding, insightful, and forge everlasting memories. Showing that you care for someone and are willing to give of yourself makes a difference — it truly maters.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County.  He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.