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Navigating the medical services network can be stressful and overwhelming, particularly for older adults facing increasingly complex health needs. More than 70% of adults in the U.S. report being dissatisfied with the health care system, according to TIME Magazine.

The American Psychological Association reports that distress is common following a diagnosis. Those experiencing additional stressful life events or who have a history of depression have even higher levels of distress.

Often, responding to a diagnosis or managing a chronic condition involves coordinating care with multiple providers and working with insurance companies.

Patients should always be prepared to advocate for themselves. Advocating can be challenging for individuals facing a new diagnosis or handling a chronic condition. Some illnesses, such as dementia, may affect a patient’s ability to self-advocate.

Self-advocacy may include:

  • Preparing a list of questions and current medications for appointments
  • Filling out and completing paperwork beforehand
  • Reviewing insurance coverage to understand what is included


Patient advocacy can be undertaken by a family member, a trusted friend, or a professional hired specifically for this purpose. While there isn’t typically a formal licensing process for healthcare advocates, patient advocates often possess backgrounds in healthcare professions, social work, nursing, or related fields. Additionally, many hospitals have dedicated on-staff patient advocates to provide assistance and support.

When someone struggles to express their needs or navigating the complexities of the healthcare system, patient advocates play a vital role in providing essential support. Acting as champions for the patient’s welfare, these advocates work diligently to ensure the delivery of appropriate care.


Health care advocates can help with tasks that may be challenging for someone facing a severe illness. These tasks might include coordinating care, completing paperwork, and filing insurance claims.

An advocate plays a supportive role throughout your healthcare journey. Prior to appointments, they may aid in paperwork completion and insurance verification. Collaborating with you, they assist in formulating questions for the provider.

During appointments, advocates listen to the physician, ask pertinent questions, and take notes for subsequent discussion with you. Post-appointment, they help you comprehend the doctor’s instructions and navigate treatment plans.

In certain instances, patient advocates can facilitate access to clinical research opportunities and help assess the suitability of experimental medications or participation in research studies. Some studies even provide patient advocates as integral members of the research team.


While a family member or friend can be a patient advocate, sometimes a person may not have someone that they know to advocate for them. If you have no one to advocate for you, you can find help through your hospital or by researching advocates online.

To find a professional patient advocate, contact your hospital and ask if there is an advocate on staff. VA health facilities have advocates as well as the Patient Advocate Foundation website. This nonprofit provides case management services that help patients access and afford health care services.

Unfortunately, when looking for a patient advocate, you should be cautious of scammers. Be wary of people who seem to be making unrealistic promises or pressuring you to act quickly. If you are in need of a patient advocate, an attorney’s assistance can help you find legitimate services and avoid scams.

Bromlow Law, PLLC and Laura L. Bromlow, are dedicated to the practice of Elder Law and Estate Planning. Our practice focuses solely on working with clients in these and closely related legal fields. Laura L. Bromlow is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with the National Elder Law Foundation. Bromlow Law, PLLC strives to enhance communication among family members and loved ones and to keep them all out of conflict so they can stay out of court. We want to help you keep your close circle safe!

Please contact our office today at (281) 665-3807 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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