Does My Aging Loved One Need a Patient Advocate?
Navigating the healthcare system can be stressful and confusing, especially for seniors and their families. With a patient advocate, you no longer need to solve the puzzle of healthcare on your own.
What is a patient advocate?
Professional patient advocates help their clients navigate an increasingly confusing healthcare system. They are often veterans of the healthcare industry and have a deep understanding of how the system works. Some advocates are specialists who help people with specific illnesses and diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. Others have expertise in medical billing and health insurance.
Seniors can also hire a patient advocate for general health questions and concerns. The advocate can help answer questions, offer guidance on next steps, and coordinate with the patient’s care team. Some will even accompany patients to their doctors visits if requested.
According to a healthcare consultant interviewed by Johns Hopkins Medicine, patient advocates generally charge around $125 per hour. The cost can be significant, so families should do their research before making a decision.
Benefits of hiring a patient advocate
The cost of a patient advocate is high, but the benefits include:
- Significant time savings. Advocates can review paperwork, confirm billing, conduct research, and perform a variety of other time-consuming tasks related to healthcare.
- Reduced stress and frustration. Dealing with hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies can be very stressful, but a patient advocate reduces the burden.
- Healthcare industry expertise. An advocate’s knowledge of the healthcare system can be particularly helpful for seniors with complicated or serious illnesses. They can also help seniors understand their insurance benefits and can contest medical bills if the charges don’t seem accurate. For some seniors, the cost of a patient advocate even pays for itself in dollars saved on medical bills.
Patient advocates can also help their clients compare treatment options, communicate with family and providers, and more.
Does my family need to hire a professional patient advocate?
Every family will answer this question differently, so it’s important to spend time learning more and exploring options. You should also think about your loved one’s individual healthcare experience. For example, seniors with simple medical needs who understand their health insurance may not find a patient advocate’s services useful.
How to find a patient advocate for an aging loved one
The easiest way to find patient advocates is through an online search. Search for “patient advocates in Denver” (or the name of your city). When seeking help for a specific illness or condition, be sure to add those terms to your search.
When interviewing candidates, assess the advocate’s experience and be sure to ask for references. Patient advocates do not require national accreditation or specific certifications, so this step will ensure your loved one receives the best care possible.
The Argyle’s team is also available to help Denver-area seniors and their families make the best choices about healthcare.
As a local nonprofit, The Argyle has brought high quality and affordable care to Denver’s seniors since 1874. To this day, our caring team remains committed to encouraging independence and preserving the dignity of every resident who calls our community home.