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Advocacy and Planning as a Boomer

By Amy Biller Daniels, M.S.W., Clinician

Here we are baby boomers, the children of the “Greatest Generation” and parents of Gen X, Y or Z’ers. Our parents and our children helped to shape the ways in which we both advocate and plan for ourselves.

Advocacy

Advocacy is often thought of only in relationship to the political arena. Certainly, here in Wisconsin, we have been overwhelmed lately with images and rhetoric of political advocacy. What we have seen recently is advocacy on a macro level. How does advocacy relate to each of us on a micro or personal level? 

Let’s think of advocacy throughout our lives. As children, we learned to “advocate” for ourselves and our siblings, when we tried to negotiate a later bedtime, anything other than liver and lima beans for dinner or more play time. We continued to advocate when we asked our teachers to reconsider an answer on a test or tried to explain why our homework was late.

In the workplace, we often advocate for a particular project, the way in which it should be done and other details.

Now that we have hit middle age, it’s time to put into practice all that we have learned. Becoming your own advocate where your healthcare issues are concerned is very important. Many of us have helped provide care for our parents. We have gone to their doctors with them, called 911 for them and met them in emergency rooms. We have answered discharge planners’ questions, attended staffings at rehabilitation facilities and tried to understand Medicare and other insurance rules and regulations. We may have even had to make end-of-life decisions for our loved ones.

Our children have added to our advocacy skills by teaching us to use the Inter-net and other social media for research or to connect with others. Hopefully, we have learned to do what our parents did not. As we move into our next phase of life, whether it’s retirement from our current careers or from one job to another, it’s important to figure out what we want and don’t want as far as our healthcare and other future planning is concerned. It is helpful if we have developed a relationship with our healthcare providers. If we can discuss issues openly with them, ask questions and then share our own opinions and feelings, it’s easier to advocate for ourselves. These documents are available online for free.

First and foremost, we should fill out our Healthcare Power of Attorney documents. We need to think about our choices and decisions when we’re unable to make them. Once we have figured out what we want or don’t, it’s important to talk with our families and share the documents with them.

Future Plans

It’s also important to discuss other future plans. If we became incapacitated, do we want to remain in our homes with caregivers or would we prefer to move into a retirement community? Do we have the funds to provide for our wishes? Where are the funds? Do our agents know where to find the necessary documents with which to carry out our wishes?

It’s important to be informed and even take tours of retirement communities so we understand the difference between the alphabet soup of RCAC, CBRF and SNFs. That is Residential Care Apartment Complex, Community Based Residential Facility and Skilled Nursing Facilities.

And finally, what are our wishes for funerals and memorials? Do we want to establish an irrevocable burial trust? In order for us to make informed decisions, we need to do research. This is a time in our lives to plan for the rest of our lives. It is a time in which we might have to advocate our thoughts, wishes and feelings to our children, other relatives and our healthcare providers.

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