Do I Need a Professional Patient Advocate?

Author

Entrusted Legacy Law

Posted on

Feb 03, 2023

Book/Edition

Pennsylvania - Greater Pittsburgh Area

Share This

Individuals experiencing illnesses can benefit from having someone attend appointments with them and support their best interests. Often, close friends or family take on this role. Professional patient advocates, however, can step in when friends or family cannot be at the hospital or a patient prefers having the help of a qualified professional who understands the healthcare system.

Experienced patient advocates may have legal and medical knowledge that friends and family lack. Many professional patient advocates have experience as doctors or nurses, or as social workers or lawyers.

Hospital patient advocates

Some hospitals provide a professional patient advocate for you. Many insurance programs cover hospital-based patient advocates, making their services a cost-effective option for some patients. Additionally, some patients may appreciate that their hospital has already vetted their patient advocates. You may still prefer, however, to hire an independent patient advocate who may provide objective advocacy.

The cost of professional patient advocates

Hiring a patient advocate can be expensive — charging between $75 and $500 per hour.

However, patient advocates who understand healthcare rules and regulations can use their knowledge to help their clients avoid unnecessary expenses. For instance, patient advocates can help make cost-effective travel arrangements, review hospital bills, and assist with insurance claims.

How professional patient advocates can help

Professional patient advocates can assist patients in other ways as well, including:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Attending appointments with patients, taking notes, and asking questions
  • Communicating medical information to family members
  • Ensuring nurses wash their hands and follow other safety procedures when a patient is staying in the hospital
  • Resolving disputes with doctors
  • Finding specialists in the patient's insurance network
  • Reviewing statements and identifying billing errors
  • Appealing insurance denials

Although professional patient advocates can help patients understand their illnesses and treatment options, they don't make healthcare decisions for the patient. Only the patient, a healthcare agent under a healthcare power attorney, or a legal guardian can decide whether to prolong a patient's life and what kind of end-of-life medical interventions to carry out. Professional patient advocates also need the patient's consent to get private health information from the patient's healthcare provider.

How to find a professional patient advocate

Professional patient advocates are certfied by the Patient Advocate Certification Board. If you wish to hire a professional patient advocate, consider asking for references and reviewing a professional patient advocate's background before employing them.

For a directory of professional patient advocates, check out the following resources:

  • The National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants
  • AdvoConnection
  • The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates
  • Greater National Advocates

Other Articles You May Like

Is A Medicaid Annuity Right For You?

Are you concerned about going broke in a nursing home?  If your parent or spouse is in a skilled nursing facility or will be soon, you should know about Medicaid Compliant Annuities.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the average cost of a skilled nursing facility is approaching $13,000 per month.Obviously, most families have trouble paying this bill.  For many, the only other payment source is Medicaid, which requires you to essentially go broke prior to eligibility. This is the fundamental problem with the way we provide care to our seniors.  Nursing homes provide a valuable service, but unfortunately the broken government rulebook requires you to spend the majority of your money before they will help pay.  What a shame making seniors go broke because of dementia or some other ailment.Fortunately for you, the state is bound by their own rules and those rules provide you with opportunities, if you know where to find them. This is where a Medicaid Compliant Annuity can help.  A Medicaid Compliant Annuity converts money that Medicaid has to count as an available resources into an income stream that a healthy spouse can keep.As an example, in a married case with Dad in a nursing home, Mom is only allowed to keep half of the available savings, subject to a maximum of about $154,000.  So, if the family has a total of $200,000 in countable savings, Mom will only be able to keep $100,000 and risks losing the other $100,000. Rather than losing $100,000, Mom may decide to work with a Certified Elder Law Attorney to explore her options.  One option she may have is to purchase a Medicaid Compliant Annuity. This annuity converts the extra $100,000 into an income stream which she is allowed to keep.  Mom gets to keep the money and Dads bill is paid by Medicaid!  This can be a great solution for you, if you have a sick family member. ***Please do not try this at home. Medicaid is complicated and only a qualified Elder Law Attorney can determine if this strategy is right for you*** 

Senior Nutrition

Senior Nutrition: Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Older AdultsPosted: September 21, 2023 in Healthy Living , Activities and LifestyleGood nutrition is important, no matter your age. Eating right is how your body gets vital nutrients: substances that our bodies need so they can function and grow, like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and even water. But as you age, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthywhich is why senior nutrition is such an important topic.Many people dont realize how big of a role nutrition plays in their long-term health and happiness. They may have a general sense of what healthy means, but knowing and doing are, of course, two different things. Lets take a closer look at what special considerations adults over 50 need to know about nutrition that can help them lead longer, healthier lives.5 Things Everyone Should Know About Senior NutritionOlder Adults Need Fewer Calories, But More NutrientsWe all know that finding the right balance of calories is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood. But older adults generally need fewer calories than they used to due to changes in metabolism, physical activity levels, and age-related loss of muscle mass.However, while you may need fewer calories, you still need the same amount of nutrients, if not more. Nutrients are crucial for energy and weight control. They can also help prevent some diseases, like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.Foods to Focus OnOver 50, its more important than ever to cut empty calories like sodas, chips, candies, and alcohol. Instead, focus on calorie-light but nutrient-packed foods, such as:Fruits and vegetables (choose different types with bright colors)Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown riceFat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or soy or rice milk that has added vitamin D and calciumSeafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggsBeans, nuts, and seedsProtein Plays a Role in Fall PreventionDespite needing fewer calories, older adults actually have higher protein requirements than younger adultsespecially if theyre dealing with an illness. Our bodies progressively lose muscle mass, strength, and function over time, beginning as early as our 30s. When people get older, their bodies cant process protein as efficiently, especially in the face of stressful situations like chronic disease, acute illness, or hospitalization. That means seniors need to get more protein from their diet to support and preserve muscle mass.  Why Is Muscle Mass So Important? Muscle loss and general weakness resulting from inadequate nutrition can lead to falls. Every year, one out of four older adults experience a fall, which can have serious physical and mental health consequences. Fall prevention is a multifaceted but highly important part of overall health and wellness in older age.Additionally, studies have suggested that older adults who consume more protein are more capable of performing activities of daily living for longer. When muscle mass is preserved, everyday functions like getting out of bed, bathing and dressing, and moving around the house may be, too! A Good Time to Focus on Good CarbohydratesCarbs have a bad reputation these days, with the rise in low-carb diets sweeping the nation. But for a balanced diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends carbohydrates make up 45%-65% of every adults diet. Instead of cutting carbs entirely, nutrition is about focusing on the right carbohydrates to support energy and digestion.There are good and bad carbohydrates, and the bad ones only cause more problems as we age. Bad carbs are simple: they are mostly starches or sugars, stripped of nutrients, and make blood sugar levels spike quickly. Good carbohydrates are complex: they are mostly fibers and other beneficial nutrients, which are slower to digest, helping regulate blood sugar and feelings of fullness.Good Carbs (Complex)Bad Carbs (Simple)Whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, baked goods containing whole-what flourWhite bread, white paste, white rice, baked goods containing white flourNuts and seedsProcessed foods like potato chips, crackers, breakfast cerealLegumes (lentils, beans, etc.)SodaFruits and vegetables with edible skinsSugary desserts and candiesThe Low-Down on SodiumSodium (aka salt) is another nutrient that has a bad reputation, though it comes by it honestly. Sodium is necessary for proper body function: it helps maintain fluid balance, conducts nerve impulses, and helps with muscle contraction. However, most American adults get too much sodium, which contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.There are also special considerations for seniors. As we age, our kidney function naturally decreases, which can make it harder to remove excess sodium from the body. That means taking special care to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300mg per dayabout the equivalent of one teaspoon of table salt.Vitamin D & CalciumWe know that the sun helps our bodies produce Vitamin D. But not only is sun exposure risky for our healthour skin also changes as we get older, becoming less adept at producing Vitamin D. That means we need to rely more on food sources and supplements to get it. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is why taking both together is so crucial for building and maintaining healthy bones. Research shows that it can prevent and even improve osteoporosis, a condition that leads to weak, brittle bones. Older adultseven those who already struggle with weakness or frailtycan develop stronger muscles and reduce their fall risk with adequate Vitamin D levels.Your doctor can help you determine the right amount of Vitamin D for your diet and recommend a supplement. You can also focus on eating foods like:Egg yolksFatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardinesOrange juiceYogurtMilkMushroomsGet Online Resources to Support Meal Planning & More!Prioritizing nutrition can be challenging for seniors, and navigating each consideration can feel a little daunting. If you or your loved one faces challenges with accessing and preparing healthy foods or has other barriers like difficulty chewing or swallowing, help is out there! At ComForCare, weve prepared a free meal planning guide filled with simple yet nutritious recipes developed with seniors unique needs in mind. This guide is packed with helpful tips, recipes, and advice for caring for a loved one with dietary barriers. Plus, you can join us on Facebook every Thursday at 1 pm EST for the latest episode of Care Kitchen, our live cooking program led by chef Steve Toll! Were always exploring new ways to support and inspire creativity in cooking, whether for yourself or for loved ones in your care. ComForCare: Compassionate, Personalized In-Home Care for Older AdultsIf you or your loved one need more help planning and preparing nutritious meals, ComForCares caregivers can help. Our in-home care services can be personalized to support your needs, including meal prep, personal care, transportation, and more. Learn more about our care services or reach out to your local team today to find your perfect caregiver!  ComForCare NW Pittsburgh covers Northern Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Lawrence Counties.  They can be reached at (724) 759.7674 or by email mbarron@comforcare.com

Veteran Home Care

Everything Families Need to Know About Veteran Home CarePosted: March 5, 2024 in Aging , Home Care Planning , Finances

Local Services By This Author

Entrusted Legacy Law

Elder Law 100 Pinewood Lane Suite #303, Warrendale, Pennsylvania, 15086

Our Firm Prepares You for Life What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing families in mind. We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a life of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency. You are raising children, and caring for elderly parents, while also working hard to build your own nest egg for a lifetime of support. You want to know youve made the best decisions for your family and that your plan will work when your loved ones need it most. You want to make sure your minor children would be raised by the people you choose, and never by anyone you wouldnt want, and that your teens and adult children are properly prepared to care for you and what you leave behind.  You want to feel confident that youve made the right choices, and handled everything so that you arent leaving behind a mess, when something happens. That is our focus as well. Weve developed unique systems to give you the same access to a Personal Family Lawyer as was previously only available to the super-wealthy, so you can have the guidance you need to build and maintain a life of prosperity and wealth. And, to keep your family out of court and out of conflict, which is the greatest risk to the people you love and all you have created, even if youve already worked with a traditional lawyer or created documents online. Our Team Is Here for You We encourage communication with our clients. In fact, weve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises. We have a whole team to serve you. When you call our office to ask your quick question, you wont have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. Youll get your question answered, right away. And, if you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call with your Personal Family Lawyer, a call will be scheduled when you're both available and ready for the call so we can make the very best use of your time and not waste your time by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth. And, we ensure the most important details of your planning are followed through on and your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime. We have a funding coordinator to ensure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime and none of your assets will end up going through a long, expensive court process or being lost to the state because they were missed after your death. Weve created unique membership programs to keep your plan up to date year in and year out as well as give you access to our Trusted Team of Legal Experts for guidance on ANY legal or financial matter. One day you will need a lawyer. I dont know why and I dont know when, but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and well be here to advise you or get you out of a jam. We Help You Transfer Your Life and Legacy Lastly, we believe your financial wealth is only a small part of your overall Life and Legacy Planning which is made up of your far more valuable and most often lost upon incapacity or death intellectual, spiritual and human assets. These assets are what make you who you are, and sum up whats most important to you. And, a survey of inheritors has revealed that what they care about even more than inheriting your money, is inheriting these intangible assets.   Most estate plans only focus on the transfer of your financial wealth to the next generation. Most people have such great intentions of passing on the intangible, but very few ever get around to it. Its just not a priority, until its too late. How much do you know about your grandparents values? Their most prized personal possessions? How they felt about you? What they had learned during their lifetime? If you are like most people, you know very little. Thats why we build the capture and passage of these most valuable assets into every estate plan we create. Not only will we help you pass on your money, but also your values, your insights, your stories and your experience the truly valuable assets your loved ones care about the most.  Weve developed a tool that allows us to capture and pass on your whole family wealth, including your Intellectual, Spiritual and Human assets.  I cant go into all of the details here, but well definitely talk about it when you come in for your Life and Legacy Planning Session.