Encouraging someone to speak up for themselves – or speaking up for them, if needed – can help them get the support and services that they deserve.
People who help older adults might encourage them to speak or advocate for them during:
Meetings about resources or benefits
Appointments with lawyers
Stays in rehab or long-term care facilities
Speaking up can help the older adult:
Avoid harm and exploitation
Make their values and priorities clear
Ensure that their decisions are honored
Get needed information and services
Understand their rights
Being an advocate means:
Supporting the older adult’s independence
Honoring the older adult’s decisions
Understanding the older adult’s needs and preferences
Focusing on the older adult’s wishes, rather than the advocate’s views
Being willing to question authority figures
Taking notes, looking up information and following up when necessary
Advocates help ensure that the older adult’s decisions are honored. However, they aren’t necessarily the same people who can make financial or legal decisions on the older adult’s behalf.
Advocates can help when older adults face ageism or other types of discrimination. Ageism is treating someone differently because of their age.
Ageism can affect older adults’ care if health professionals:
Don’t treat symptoms like pain, fatigue or depression because they think it’s just a normal part of getting old
Don’t provide preventive care like vaccines or health screenings because they think it’s less important for older adults
Recommend unnecessary tests or treatments based on someone’s age rather than their health, abilities or concerns