Sometimes it seems that if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will. I know that sounds rather pessimistic, there are a few who go out of their way to help others — mostly people are just trying to make it through their own days and their own woes. There really isn’t blame to go around.
Bosses don’t understand when the customer rep takes a little more time to do extra for someone, most times there is an allotted amount of time to spend on each customer no matter how dire their situation. For people unable to look up the right information or communicate their specific needs, well, they wind up being forgotten. So often an elderly person living alone realizes how alone they are when pushing for themselves just gets to tiring to continue the fight. It’s sad when benefits or services they need so much seems beyond their reach.
Loved ones who want to help and ensure that their family is taken care of are sometimes across the country or too busy with their own lives and immediate household; maybe they are busy because their priorities don’t make it convenient and sometimes they have genuine concerns of their own (sickness, money problems, children who depend on them…), and it’s hard to be there for everyone.
It’s frustrating to make repeated phone calls to a doctor’s office only to reach a receptionist each time who tells you they’ve taken your message and yet no return phone call has been made. Everybody is busy. And then there are those special few who go above and beyond to help. There’s the doctor who makes personal phone calls to other doctors to help a patient coordinate the care he/she needs. There’s the insurance representative who actually believes that his/her job description IS CUSTOMER SERVICE. There’s the neighbor who drives someone to the doctor’s office and picks them up after a hospital stay.
The elderly, children with developmental disabilities, returning vets, and those living on meager incomes are all too often the ones who are left to fall through the cracks because there are too few resources, from budgets to time, to help them. Too often we might mimic the cry of Blanche from Streetcar Named Desire and say we must “depend on the kindness of strangers”, but like Blanche, is that kindness actually kind or self-serving? Too many people grasp at whatever help might come their way and sometimes find themselves scammed. It can be heartbreaking.
We need to find some way to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones, it can be terribly exhausting. If the need arises because we ourselves can’t manage the things we need, or because our loved ones need more attention than we can provide, there are (for the elderly) Geriatric Care Managers, but that does cost money and not everyone can afford it — than again can you afford not to get the needed help? That is something that truly needs to be considered.
Learn to advocate for yourself and your loved ones. Get information, ask, research, attend seminars (check out local libraries) and share that info with your friends and family (it might help someone else as well). Understand your rights as a patient, as a renter, as a business customer, and as a human being. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and make yourself heard, if you need help making your feeling clear ask someone to help you. Make notes especially who you speak with and who told you what. Try to keep your emotions at bay, all too often people don’t have the patience or compassion to listen to someone else’s tears or anger. Be firm in your resolve and know that you are worth the effort.