Have you picked your advocate yet? If not, you should! A medical advocate is someone who will speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. That could mean you were in a car accident or had emergency surgery or just got really sick. We all hope it won’t happen to us. Choosing an advocate doesn’t mean you are expecting the worst. It just means you are smart enough to plan for the worst possible situation rather than trusting your health decisions to people you might not even know.
Here’s how it works. Start by thinking about what kind of person you would want in your corner if you were sick or injured and couldn’t make decisions for yourself or communicate what you need. I had three major components when I made my list:
• Big mouth – I want someone who is not afraid to make waves if they are in my best interest. My advocate needs to be able to speak up for me, whether it’s to ask questions, demand answers, or stand up for what he or she believes is best for me.
• Tough – I want my advocate to be able to stand up against anyone – whether it’s doctors or nurses, or even my own family members if they can’t agree. My advocate needs to stand up to authority if that’s what is in my best interest.
• Reliable – I want someone I know I can count on. The whole point of naming an advocate is to plan for an emergency. I need to know that my advocate will drop what he or she is doing to help me if needed.
You may be thinking that of course the right person for this is your spouse or partner. But before you make that decision, I want you to think about your list of requirements one more time. Can your partner really stand tough if the doctor is arguing for something else? In many cases, family members are so afraid of doing the wrong thing that they become paralyzed and can’t make a decision at all. That’s not the person you want as your advocate.
The good thing is, you can set this up however you want. You can choose someone as your advocate to be your voice, but also require that person to discuss decisions with your spouse, partner, or other family members.