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Learning the Basics of Advocating for a Family Member with Special Needs

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When a family member is coping with a serious medical condition, it can be difficult for them to get through even the simplest day-to-day interactions. That’s where advocates come in: individuals close to the person who can help them navigate difficult situations and decisions.

Being an advocate can be a very challenging, yet rewarding experience—especially when you’re helping loved ones. Here’s everything you need to know about being an advocate for family members with special needs.

Who are advocates?

Anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of people with special needs can be an advocate. However, family members typically make the best advocates since they often have a close connection to the person in need. Teachers or other mentors can sometimes be advocates as well. There are even official organizations that focus on advocacy for people with serious healthcare concerns.

Why is advocating for special needs individuals important?
Sometimes individuals struggling with medical issues can’t fully understand their limitations and need someone they can trust to help them fully grasp a situation. For example, an advocate can help someone remember information or understanding medical or legal circumstances. Advocates provide support, comfort, protection, and more.

What should advocates do?

The first step for anyone wanting to serve as an advocate is to learn as much about the conditions and issues facing the person in need. With a greater understanding of what they are experiencing, you’ll be able to empathize more and help address their needs and concerns. Good advocates frequently ask questions and start conversations with doctors, nurses, and teachers to better understand how they can best help their loved ones.

Once you have a better understanding of your loved one’s condition, it becomes your job to look out for their best interests. If there are serious decisions that have to be made about their legal or health care rights, an advocate needs to help that person understand the situation, or in some circumstances, make the decision for them. It’s a serious responsibility, and isn’t to be taken lightly.

Where can advocates go for help?

Being a part of a community related to your loved one’s condition can provide important resources. Getting actively involved with the community can help you learn more about the issues people are facing and can offer important insight into ways that you can help. Strong community groups can also be a great source for support and assistance. Advocating for a loved one can be a very trying job and it’s helpful to have others there to support you through your own difficulties as well.

Advocacy organizations are a great resource, as they have years of expertise in understanding these issues and how best to deal with them.

Family members with special needs can especially benefit from in-home care services like therapy or one-on-one nursing care. CommandCare understands the importance of treating your loved ones with compassion and respect. Contact us today for more information about our trusted personal care services.