As the number of senior citizens keeps rising, families, communities, and countries are increasingly adjusting their healthcare approaches to advocacy for this category’s emotional, psychological, physical, social, and mental health. Health advocacy for senior citizens is taking center stage with specialized personnel who work as volunteers and private and public specialized officers within health institutions, families, and communities on the concerns of senior citizens. The total welfare of senior citizens, including emotional, psychological, physical, nutritional, mental, and spiritual well-being, requires advocacy to deal with vulnerabilities and improve the rights, care, and general awareness of issues affecting them.
The Care Component in Advocacy for Health and Well-Being of Senior Citizens
Care is an essential part of the life of senior citizens. This is because they may be unable to accomplish various daily living tasks, such as picking groceries from the market. Due to complications associated with old age, some cannot take a bath, eat, or even walk without help. There are two forms of care; home-based and institutional care. Vulnerabilities can exist in any of them, as cases of family abuse of the elderly or institutional maltreatment have all been reported. Advocacy related to care for senior citizens is critical to avoid emotional, physical, mental, nutritional, and spiritual abuse. As Hanson et al. (2021) note, advocacy should not simply engage the caregiver but also try to read and observe the care environments and socialization senior citizens receive. Advocacies must ensure that senior citizens receive their meals at the right time, are given the necessary freedom, and are not confined in inhabitable physical settings. The environment must be assessed for cleanliness. Advocacy goes beyond this aspect to include recommendations on improvements of the care interactions, environments, and even decisions to support changes in the care environment. It is typical for this kind of advocacy to be multi-stakeholder, including healthcare providers, legal officers, custodial officials, and institutional caregivers (Kane et al., 2023). Hence, using environmental, interactional, and multi-stakeholder approaches to advocacy ensures senior citizens have the best care available.
A Rights Approach to Advocacy on Health and Well-Being of Senior Citizens
A rights-based approach is necessary to achieve senior citizens’ emotional, physical, psychological, nutritional, and mental well-being. The rights-based approach identifies general human rights and is also conscious of rights related to senior citizens (Mikołajczyk, 2019). Advocacy on the same means that the healthcare professional can identify what the law stipulates about the physical, emotional, psychological, nutritional, and mental issues relating to older persons, the penalties for denial of these rights, and the culpable persons in such cases. It is the work of health advocates to help senior citizens get justice by taking up the costs, investigations, and litigations on behalf of those who cannot do it on their own or those in abusive settings. A rights-based approach to health also includes health education and sensitization. It involves the health practitioners undertaking awareness campaigns, where they impart the skills for examining and uncovering rights abuse. It also creates awareness among caregivers and family members on what to look out for regarding possible rights abuse. It is clear that the health professional may not be around all the time. To this end, friends and neighbors should also be informed about the rights of senior citizens so that they can work together with the health professional to ensure a multi-stakeholder approach to the same. Therefore, awareness of the rights of senior citizens should be undertaken by the healthcare advocate as it ensures that families, friends, and neighbors all work together for the health and well-being of the seniors.
The Seniors Healthcare and Well-Being Advocate
A healthcare advocate is a practitioner who defends abuse or threat to the health and welfare of other persons. Seniors’ healthcare advocates advance issues related to the welfare of senior citizens. They are often trained professionals from diverse fields (Lillsjö et al., 2023). Some family members see the need to stand up for the rights of their loved ones. Several cases of healthcare advocates arise from having had direct contact with senior citizens being ridiculed, abused, stigmatized, or denied their rights. As with all forms of care, advocacy is more of a moral choice than a straight field of learning. Although it is not mandatory, training is often needed, mainly in healthcare and sometimes legal system practices. Advocacy for seniors will mainly require understanding the prevalent health and social issues for the various developmental stages, especially the old age stage (Lillsjö et al., 2023). To this end, healthcare advocacy for seniors is a professional and individual path one can take after witnessing societal problems, such as the mistreatment of elderly persons. It will need extended periods of seminars, community engagements, and collaborative work to gain the necessary skills and experience. Healthcare advocates are a bridge, especially for communication purposes. They serve as the communication line with the administration. This happens when things are not going well or when data is needed that can help increase senior citizens’ health and well-being. They also link patients and their families with healthcare providers. Thus, an advocate for seniors’ health is a well-rounded professional with expert training, interactions, and a desire to improve the state of health and well-being of seniors.
What to Look Out for as a Seniors’ Healthcare and Well-Being Advocate
Although there is much to look out for as a healthcare advocate for seniors, several key issues should be a priority. The first aspect presented through research is the hygiene of the senior citizen. According to Kane et al. (2023), hygiene tends to paint a picture of senior citizens’ healthcare. If the hygiene is poor, then most other aspects, such as medication, nutrition, and others, may also be wrong. The health advocate should then focus on medical attention. This aspect entails looking at the healthcare facility the senior citizen is attached to or can be attended to when the need arises. This element is important to avoid rejection or lack of attention by medical teams. The focus on healthcare should also evaluate the facilities the senior citizen has access to in a comparative sense. This also includes documentation and medications for various ailments. Thus, as a health advocate for seniors, it is important to focus on their hygiene, environment, and healthcare access as critical assessments.
In conclusion, healthcare advocates are essential healthcare professionals, especially in achieving senior citizens’ emotional, physical, nutritional, mental, and psychological well-being. They play the critical role of identifying abuse situations in families and institutions and communicating with the administration to alleviate such situations. These professionals must engage families, neighbors, and friends in creating awareness of the rights of senior citizens so that everyone can collaborate to bring about the intended objectives for the health and well-being of senior citizens.
Hanson, H. M., Cowan, K., & Wagg, A. (2021). Identifying what matters most for the health of
older adults in Alberta: Results from a James Lind Alliance Research Priority Setting Partnership. CMAJ Open, 9(2), E522–E528. doi.org/10.9778/cmajo.20190225
Kanne, G. E., McConnell, E. S., Disco, M. E., Black, M. C., Upchurch, G., Matters, L. M.,
Halpern, D. H., White, H. K., & Heflin, M. T. (2023). The interagency care team: A new model to integrate social and medical care for older adults in primary care. Geriatric Nursing, 50. 72-79.
Lillsjö, E., Bjuresäter, K., & Josefsson, K. (2023). Registered nurses’ challenges and suggestions
for improvement of their leadership close to older adults in municipal home healthcare. BMC Nursing, 22(1), 1–13. doi.org/10.1186/s12912-023-01215-x
Mikołajczyk, B. (2019). Older persons’ right to health – a challenge to international law. Ageing
and Society, 39(8), 1611-1638. doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X18000156