Elder Care and Advocacy: Kitchen Table Advocacy

Of all the kinds of advocacy that occur in the world, there is one function that I hold dear. I call it Kitchen Table Advocacy.

Vintage TableIt’s labeled Kitchen Table Advocacy because for me it conjures up images of family meetings, of aging parents, professionals, and Adult Children talking frankly. It illustrates my own eldercare experience, images, and memories of discussions ‘round the table. Few in number, but always important in nature, the ones held by my family were impact-FULL.

Most times we as kids were being told of some sort of change: Dad got a new job, someone in the extended family or our own received a diagnosis, the passing of someone we knew and loved, or news that we were moving to a new town. Our job was to learn change and acceptance. (That job remains even today).

One family meeting, in particular, is forever in my mind’s eye. Now an adult I’d joined our little family plus one brother-in-law around my parents’ table. Their attorney and financial advisor were also present. My mother (Family Financial Guru and Planner-Extraordinaire) led the meeting and began to tell us kids about their planning and their wishes for the future.

The attorney presented the planning that my parents had put in place. The financial advisor explained to us the methods that would be used to pay for care. They worked in concert to provide an overview, a light touch, nothing too detailed. They were mindful of our reactions and available for questions and positioned themselves as in our corner. Setting expectations that batons would indeed pass we learned that we’d find mile markers along the way. The professionals, this team, would be there for us as we all changed. They brought us peace that night.

After the guest-professionals departed our family lingered around the table and found ourselves in a mini-version of a Five Wishestype discussion, a prelude to each of us completing our own in the coming weeks. We teased and laughed and spun wild yarns with our answers, diffusing any tension about End of Life planning with humor. We managed to calm for some serious moments. Looking back I remember that night as THE NIGHT, the one where we as Adult Children got clear on what our aging parents wanted for their care. We also realized that we kids as Adults Children also needed to define it for ourselves.

Kitchen Table AdvocacyBless the Kitchen Table Advocacy that went on that evening: Parents for children. Children for parents. Professionals for family. Professionals in concert. Peace, accomplished with a sense of humor.

And when the times came for us to know and use that information? We did it. And we enjoy more peace even today.

Sacrosanct, mission-level stuff, eh? Makes me want to work hard for clients and families. Right now. 

It’s good work, I say to you.

At NAVIGATE NC  we use our Kitchen Table Advocacy to help you address “whatever IT is, and how it will affect my family”. We define the problem and help folks step into the solution.

Those kitchen table moments will always call. There will be a need to share information, discuss current events, to educate or become better educated, to share and bring everyone onto the same page. I hope there will be many kitchen table moments in your future, for you and among those you love, or with the team that you assemble in planning. The more moments, the more it becomes normal and routine. Matter of fact. This is what we do.

May I suggest that all of us can be advocates? We are advocates as we begin to kitchen table – See? I’ve made it a verb!

A lot of us enter the field of Professional Advocacy to perform Kitchen Table Advocacy. It may resemble that which we had with our own family, or reminiscent of a pivotal encounter with a professional that benefited you, or changed you. My hunch is that you can recall in short order a pivotal time in your life where you were touched by someone’s advocacy.

I would venture to say that you look out for others. You refer or connect others with the people or professionals they need. You share what you know about a situation. We see advocates all around us. Clergy helping their congregation. Parents raise and protect their children. Teachers better their students. Even sharing a casual conversation at work.

With that, I will tell you I am a big fan of “water cooler talk”. I often write about using stories and current events to talk.  It’s a trifecta opportunity to teach, provoke thought and raise awareness. Tell a friend, pass it on, share stories of tragedy or triumph. Provoke thought (now that can be fun). Push someone’s button (gently is fine) and move them into action. Water cooler talk can be a form of advocacy. Advocacy can be quiet, or loud. It can be persistent, or vehement, or strategically inserted. It can be from one tiny voice or 750,000 voices in unison. Advocacy can be within thought or it can simply be an orientation.

I’m grateful for the Kitchen Table Advocacy that benefitted me and my family, and that which I am honored to provide today. In closing, this Advocate has a prescription for you.

Be useful wherever you may find yourself. Better someone’s life and you will likely better your own.

Is your family looking for Kitchen Table Advocacy? Need to discusswhatever IT is, and how will it affect your family”? Then CONNECT WITH US on our website or call to schedule a Free Initial Consultation at (919) 628-4428.

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