Of all the kinds of advocacy there are there is a special function that I hold dear. I call it Kitchen Table Advocacy.
It’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 and occasion the ones held by my family were impact-FULL.
Sometimes we were learning of and accepting change: disease, a death, the news that we were moving to a new town. We as kids would notice our parents working with professionals of some sort. 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. As 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) began the meeting to tell us kids about their planning for long term care.
The attorney presented the planning in place. The financial advisor explained to us the methods that would be used to pay for care. They worked in concert to provide 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. They 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 Wishes-type 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 with humor. We’d calm for 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, and realizing that we kids also needed to define it for ourselves.
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 our Kitchen Table Advocacy addresses “whatever IT is, and how it will affect my family”. The kitchen table will always call, however I feel genuine tugs to pursue additional kinds of advocacy whose good works all result in raising awareness, “Normalizing”, and providing real solution.
Community Advocacy – Is there a social or health concern to such a degree that we must work to serve a growing population? How do we create enough senior housing in Raleigh or Durham NC to meet the growing need? Are the Senior Centers fully utilized and are they funded?
Hospital Advocacy – Is there a client in acute need who is without a voice, debilitated, or vulnerable, and whose care will benefit from professional oversight and management? How do I keep elderly parents safe in the hospital? How do we now plan for and locate nursing homes or home health care for discharge?
Health, Disease, or Disability Advocacy – Are we to work on behalf of a specific population with a common characteristic, perhaps one involving research and development of new techniques? What resources are available or needed for chronic care?
Regional and Statewide Advocacy – May we work toward a senior, public health or environmental issue or improvement within a larger geographic area? Might this involve legislation? How do we share information? Can we apply what has worked in Raleigh and Durham NC to other parts of our state?
National and International Advocacy – Could we address the elder care needs of a nation, or as affected by global influences? Might we restore, repair or circumvent with respect to human rights?
All Advocacy (and now we know there are many kinds) will result in three important outcomes:
- Raising awareness – (“whatever IT is, and how will it affect…”)
- “Normalizing” – If this, then that. Sure, make it so.
- Remedy – Accomplishment.
I get worked up just waiting to begin.
Advocacy can be both as simple as and as important as where you place your vote. It is a tool. Awareness is an important tool, it’s a vantage point to be gained and cultivated.
Education is a tool but so is sharing knowledge. 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 (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. It can be presented on -or by- the media. Advocacy can be within thought or simply an orientation.
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 benefitted you, change you. My hunch is that you can recall in short order a pivotal time in your life where you were touched by advocacy.
I’m grateful for the Kitchen Table Advocacy that benefitted me and my family, and that which I am honored to provide today.
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 discuss “whatever 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.
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Image 1: Jorge Royan; Image 2: Robin Leicester