Patient Advocates

By Doug Mayberry

April 22, 2019 5 min read

Q: My doctor told me that I should get a hip replacement, and I am on board with the plan after several years of pain. Even though it's a major operation, I am looking forward to having a working hip.

My insurance approved me to go to a rehab facility post-surgery, which will help me recover and be able to use my hip better.

When I told neighbors in my retirement home, they told me I should get a health advocate. I don't know anything about it, though.

Do I need a health advocate? And if so, how do I choose one?

A: A patient advocate will help you assert your medical needs and make sure that they are met.

We've all heard a horror story from someone about a terrible medical experience, and the idea of going into a facility can be intimidating. Having a patient advocate will make it more likely that you have a good experience.

Staff in rehab facilities are often inundated with work. Although people who go into the medical field want to help their patients, it can be hard for them to keep up with everyone. Your advocate will help bridge this gap.

An advocate can help you with logistics such as medical questions and concerns, medication lists and regimens, paperwork and other details you might overlook while dealing with your health.

When choosing an advocate, you will want to look for a few things: This person should be detail oriented, calm and able to clearly communicate their questions and get answers. Ideally, this person will be local and able to visit or attend appointments with you.

Your advocate should know about your medical history, so find someone who knows you well or who you are comfortable sharing this information with.

If you can't think of anyone who fits the bill, you can ask your hospital to recommend resources for you to find one. There are professional health advocates and volunteer advocates, who are experienced in helping patients. As a benefit, they may have a background in the field and know more about the medical industry than you do.

Good luck with your operation and new hip! — Emma, Doug's granddaughter


Q: I will be turning 83 next month, but I still feel young! Even with how things change over time, I'm still enjoying my life. My attitude is that you're only as old as you feel.

Unfortunately, not all of my family members agree. My son has been telling me for years that I'm no longer able to drive safely, and others are singing the same tune.

I've gotten a few dents on my car (especially from parking lots!) but haven't had any close calls. It seems too soon to hang up the keys.

Am I too old to drive?

A: Even if you still feel safe to drive, you need to think of others on the road.

It only takes one time for something bad to happen, and it's likely that you wouldn't be the only one affected by an accident. You don't want to have someone else's blood on your hands.

Two major concerns for seniors who drive are loss of vision and decreased reaction time. Although there's no cure for decreased reaction time, you can have your vision checked by a professional for a prescription or for any cataracts.

Take a driving test, either with a relative or a professional. If they say you need to stop driving, listen to them.

Even if it goes well, you should cut down on any long trips and fast driving. These changes will help mitigate the effects of slower reaction time.

Loss of autonomy after quitting driving is a common concern for seniors, but there are options out there. First figure if you're safe, and then find a solution to getting around town. — Doug

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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