‘Have You Had The Talk?’: The Importance Of a Patient Advocate

Posted at 9:46 PM, Feb 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-06 23:12:10-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Starting a conversation about the end of your life is a difficult but necessary thing to do, and one of the most important things in planning is choosing a patient advocate.

A patient advocate is the person that is going to be the voice for you when you are unable to speak for yourself, the person that is left to make medical decisions on your behalf.

You first must remember the legal side of things; you need a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, which legally appoints a patient advocate for you.

It’s also important to make sure that everyone in your system of family and friends is aware of whom the patient advocate is and that their role is to support that person. Communicating with everyone in the family will help down the road when an emergency happens.

But it’s not just about sitting down and having ‘the talk;’ your patient advocate should accompany you on your health care journey, learning the ins and outs of your medical history.

A patient advocate has big responsibility, but by talking about the wishes and vision one has when it comes to their end of life can help them understand just exactly what you want.

 In fact, studies show that all most people want is their patient advocate to make the best decision possible in a very tough time, and they want them to not have any regrets in the decisions they make.

Next Thursday we sit down with the Haarman family. They’re a blended family that chose to approach their five children about their end of life.

It’s the first time they are starting the conversation with their children.  We will walk you through the struggles they faced and the ways you can approach your own children about a very sensitive topic.

In the third piece, we will introduce you to Deke Bradshaw and her family, as her and her two brothers reach out to their mom for the first time.

Despite being only 59, the children wanted to get the conversation started early so they could be prepared in case of an emergency.