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Creating 20/20 Senior Advocacy In 2020

Creating 20/20 Senior Advocacy in 2020

Isn’t it amazing how perfect hindsight is?  We know why.  It is exponentially easier to look back with regrets, than to look forward with purpose.

I can see my mistakes clearly.  Crystal clear.  But my future?  Whoa.  Different lenses required.

Can you subscribe to this personal demon?  I believe all of us can.

Have you ever been given driving directions from someone who did nothing but confuse you?  Perhaps you think in a linear fashion, and this person had the gall to give you exclusively landmark directions?  Insanity.

We know we should never take advice from fools, but when we are giving advice…are we speaking clearly?  If we are advocating for someone we love, are we using their language?  Are we listening?  If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ve taken a page from our ABC’s of Home Care.

But what steps do we need to be able to turn a new leaf in our approach when it comes to the advocacy of those whom we love?  How do we begin to put on our ‘bossy-pants’ and actually get things done…in the NOW?

Having worked with Seniors and their family members for 20 years, I have seen and heard thousands of differing family dynamics.  Boy oh boy have we seen some interesting approaches and fascinating families….Does your family put the FUN in Dys-FUN-ction?

With all the baggage, differing points of view and power dynamics a family can have, even the best of families can have relationships that have soured, exiled family members and varying degrees of disarray.  No family is perfect!  I am the first to share stories about my own family that expose harsh feelings, regrets and mistakes.

I have an Aunt who was estranged for a decade and raced to my grandparents home after the funeral so she could fill her car with items she felt she was entitled to.  This stuff happens…And even still, I believe most families to be well-intended.  They are just busy, distracted, grieving or are perhaps like my own aunt, holding on to some anger that hasn’t been dealt with yet. Hear this:

“Every family can improve the way they communicate with this healthy dose of direction and advocacy.”-Benjamin A. Smith

Taking the following steps of our 2020 Active Advocacy is a healthy step towards tackling larger issues our loved ones face.  Being an positive advocate can make you a better spouse, a better daughter, son, even a better friend.  Some of the best people I know possess the simple skills you can learn to be more effective in all your endeavors and roles.

Take 5 minutes, read our 2020 Advocacy game plan and apply it towards actions you can take in your own life.

2020 Game Plan with 5 easy steps for Active Advocacy

Step 1. Awareness

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one simple step.  But before you run into a wall?  Let’s pause for a breath of accountability.  The first thing we need is awareness of where we are so we can begin to manage where we are going to go.

Awareness can also enable us to shed the doubts we have about how late in the game we may feel we are.  How we could have done more already.  Awareness means we admit how far out of reach our problems may seem, yet embracing these problems with a new determination to not settle, not invent excuses, not ‘change the subject’, not be ‘put in our place’.

Awareness is an awakening.  A brisk ‘slap across the face’ which demands our honesty. Awareness is the rudder we are going to set in order to prevent self defeating issues.

If you can be aware of where you are,  you can then chart out where you want to be.

We have often sited the textbook definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over…and expecting different results”.  When we apply awareness of the mistakes we have made, and the circles it’s spun us in?  We can avoid the same mistakes. Remember that it’s not possible to be perfect, but we can be honest and accept our own faults.  If we can be honest about our role in creating positive change, how can we define our role?  Time for step 2.

Step 2. Choose your Role

You didn’t get to choose your name.  Your choice is the legacy you leave.  The way you’ll love others.  The support you’ll give.  The relationships you’ll build.  The people you’ll raise.  Just as Maya Angelou said:

Don’t define your role exclusively by who you think you are.  Ask yourself:

How are you making others feel?  

Here are some roles you can choose.  Your interpretation of them may be completely different than others, but if you’re intentional in your selection, and carry through asking yourself if your actions reflect your choice?  You’ll make positive change in all your relationships and roles.

Defining our role can help shape the reactions we will offer in times of trouble.  Try choosing one from each column so you can create your spirit animal of alter-ego:


These are real roles.  Remember you can have fun with who you are.  In my management years in hospice, I never met a collection of more goofy loving ridiculous people.  You just plain old kind of had to be.  Embrace the challenges but arm yourself with the permission to laugh and share in the triumph of the day to day minute achievements you’ll encounter.

Step 3: Present information not anger or a sales pitch

Logic is a real game changing winner of arguments.  No, it’s not undefeated.  But, presenting options before mentioning the option that you are in favor of will actually help you prove your point, and make your argument stronger.

If you are trying to get Mom or Dad help at home, and you know that it will be effective and life changing, don’t do it by threatening.  Do it by highlighting the advantages of their experience to be.  Talk about the enormous entry fees at many of the local facilities (some are over $100,000).  Talk about the fresh meals made just for her, how she can keep her dog or cat, enjoy her meals when she likes to eat.  And then, take steps for her to experience a trial with some help.  Now you’re done.

We often explain that the idea of home care is easy to reject.  In fact, I would say that 70% of the time the idea that someone needs help is rejected..but the relationship?  I would argue that 99.9% of the time the relationship is embraced.  And when that caregiver begins to make the big helpful items on the care plan happen?  The caregiver becomes an essential element of your advocacy.  Turn your advocacy into action and take the leap to enable Mom and Dad to receive a major life improvement on a daily basis.

So that’s it.  3 simple steps.  Now go and step boldly into 2020 with your improved brand of advocacy in all of your roles.  Don’t let your hindsight be your only 20/20 vision. Go into your year and into your challenges with a determination to make positive change for those important people in your life.

This year?  Lets encourage all our loved ones this year to take an active role in their own advocacy.  It’s 2020, the timing is perfect.  This is the year!

Stay tuned for our next blog.  Also dealing with vision.  More specifically dealing with hindsight…which can be more honest than you might be prepared for.  Here’s a teaser photo…

Here’s Ben Smith, Always There Home Care’s Founder & President in his happy place.  Big Glen Lake in Glen Arbor, Michigan.  He’s traveling backwards, looking backwards and probably thinking backwards…while asking you do do the same.  Our hope is to get some embarrassing pictures from blog readers via email submitted to:

If you have a loved one in need of care, please call our 24-Hour Home Care Hotline: (614) HOME-CARE 466-3227.  Arrange a conversation with Ben and we can together envision some care plan solutions for your senior loved one.

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