Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, September 4th, 2022
Everyone thinks that they know what old age is like and what seniors want and need. But there is only one group of people who really knows what matters to them – and that is seniors themselves.
But how often do they get consulted when important decisions are being made – even decisions that may affect them very deeply?
A few seniors, usually those who hold or have held important positions in their lives, are still able to have an impact and get their messages across. This is because they have access to information, good contacts with decision makers and have experience with formal meetings, speaking to the media, negotiating, and working with big organizations.
But for many seniors, especially disadvantaged ones, the picture is very different. They feel very remote from people in power; they do not feel well informed or confident to speak up when “important” people are talking about them.
So, what usually happens is that experts, professionals, politicians, government officials, health and community workers, the press and others all think they know about senior adults and what to say and do about the situation of seniors. But do they really know?
“Whether it’s for you or a loved one, being an advocate is important,” said Brett Junell, co-moderator of the monthly Truth Series designed to help older adults make more informed decisions.
“While we would each like to think that the professionals we encounter in the course of daily life are looking out for our best interest and are there to help us make good decisions, this is often not ‘truly’ the case,” Junell said.
Even those genuinely wishing to help are sometimes swayed by financial incentives, lack of available time or even access to needed information. How do you discern truthful advice and become an advocate for what you need for yourself and others in areas of healthcare, finances, living options, end-of-life wishes and more.
And while you might not think of yourself as an advocate, you already are. Each time you speak up for yourself or someone else, you are an advocate.
Healthcare is a prime example. First, we all need to take an active role in our healthcare, telling our doctors and nurses what matters most to us and what health goals we want to achieve. Too many people have been conditioned to let health care professionals take the lead while passively trusting them to decide what’s best for our health.
For example, if what matters most is planting a garden in the early spring, tell your doctor. The treatments and medications the doctor recommends may change by knowing this is your goal. You might postpone your hip surgery or develop a different physical therapy plan to maintain your mobility.
Should you have someone with you at a doctor’s appointment to help advocate and interpret what the doctor has to say? Are you comfortable asking the doctor to repeat if you don’t understand what he has said? What about having someone to compare notes with after your appointment – just to make sure you’ve understood?
“The same could be said for meetings with attorneys about trusts, powers of attorney and wills,” Junell said. “There are so many situations in which it’s important to advocate for yourself or someone you love.”
What about financial advocacy? Do you understand reverse mortgage options? How do you become an advocate for your finances? Is the key financial literacy? How do you get the information you need?
America’s senior population is growing but the resources to help maintain financial self-sufficiency are falling behind, according to advocates for the elderly at a Senate hearing earlier this year. The Senate Special Committee on Aging report showed that 24% of workers close to retirement are not fully aware of their financial needs after they leave the workforce.
Do you know what your living options are in Northern Nevada? Active Adult Living Options? Independent living? Assisted living? Continuing care retirement communities? How do you get the information you need to advocate for yourself when it comes to these options?
What do you need to have in place to assure that your end-of-life wishes are followed?
For those interested in answers to these and many more questions about advocating for yourself or your loved ones, the upcoming seminar, “The Truth about Advocating for Yourself and Those You Love,” will provide many of the answers.
The free seminar, “The Truth about Advocating for Yourself and Those You Love” seminar will be held on Thursday, September 15 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the RSAR Building at 5650 Riggins Court, Reno (near Meadowood Mall).
The seminar is free for seniors and their guests. Pre-registration is required because seating is limited.
Seat reservations can be made online at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398.