Imagine being on your own, elderly, frail, struggling to manage, not having someone to speak up for you or not knowing how to get the help you need? This is the case for a growing number of seniors who live alone and have no family members or close friends to help them. With lower birthrates and increasing life expectancy, Statistics Canada predicts seniors will outnumber children by 2015.i The number of one-person households climbed almost 12 percent over five years, family sizes are decreasing and more people are choosing to live alone.
The reality is that being frail or physically weak does not mean end of life. Although you may be frail, speaking more quietly, responding more slowly, mentally you may be sharp and you may have many years left to live. This is a key point to think about because this is a stage of life when quality of life is most essential and when you are most vulnerable and susceptible to elder abuse.
A growing number of seniors are asking to have a personal advocate to speak up for them. They want someone to represent them in their daily life and with health care issues, and to ensure they continue to be treated as individuals and to have their rights and values respected. The important point to note is to make plans while you have the energy and can still make realistic choices.
Advocates may be family members; but not all seniors have family, or the family may not be available, or the elder parent may not want or expect the children to speak up for them or manage their care. An alternative is to use a personal seniors’ advocate as an impartial overseer for a busy family.
Simply put, the role of a personal seniors’ advocate is someone who provides support, planning and guidance through gentle advocacy to avoid potential problems in housing, care, hospital to home management, and daily life management. These responsibilities often fall on the shoulders of a busy family member as primary caregiver, but when there is no family a personal seniors’ advocate may be the answer. The key is to be prepared