Advocacy Is a Golden Opportunity We Can Choose to Take Every Day

Advocacy Is a Golden Opportunity We Can Choose to Take Every Day

by Amber Patton, ED, CDAL, CDP

In senior living, we’re often asked to be advocates—but this can look different for each person. We advocate for seniors who live in our communities; we advocate for the families who aren’t sure what their next steps in care should look like; we advocate for our employees and ourselves as we work fervently each day and somehow balance caring for our seniors, ourselves, and our families.

But advocacy goes so much deeper than our occupations or who we choose to care for. Choosing to be a voice for someone and make a difference in their life is a calling like no other, and it gives each of us a sense of purpose in this chaotic world.

Giving voice to others

A great purpose in my life is to give a voice to those without one.

This is something I try to accomplish daily in our memory care neighborhood. The more I work with people with dementia, the more I realize they need someone to help them find their purpose. They may feel lost, confused, and in need of someone to walk beside them and remind them of who they are.

Most of the time, I find, residents are just looking for someone to take care of. When I give them towels to fold, a baby doll to cuddle, a table to set, or a hand to hold, it evokes their sense of purpose and gives them something or someone to care about. Isn’t that what we all are looking for?

Starting from the heart

My family and I choose to advocate for orphans. We are a foster family and feel that God placed that calling on our lives and we believe that each person has a special purpose or calling in their individual life. For us, it’s giving children love and stability.

We’re nowhere close to perfect and make mistakes daily, but we will never regret choosing to give hope to the parentless children we meet. It’s not always rainbows and roses, but it has truly taught us to love the sometimes unlovable.

Another cause near to my heart is childhood cancer. My children are elementary-age, and in their young lives they have seen friends both go into remission and lose their battle with cancer. The statistics are daunting and continue to grow each year. I can’t imagine the heartbreak that comes with losing a child to cancer. My husband and I serve on a local charity who advocates for these children and their families; we do so because it is a group of people who need our care, financial support, and prayers.

The power of advocacy

To say this past year has been like no other is a bit of an understatement. In our field we have experienced loss, exhaustion, and stress like never before. We have had to sacrifice our time, our sleep, our families, sometimes food, showers, or just being able to take a minute to breathe all for what seems like a never-ending pandemic. Our country has been a breeding place for division and negativity and many of us could easily lose faith in mankind.

It’s during times like these that we need to show we care like never before.

For me, being an advocate for others gives me the energy to keep on going during these times. I find that it brings me joy to come together with others and fight for a common cause—and I find that this encourages my staff as well.

One common thread for different types of advocacy is that it is an opportunity to care for others. It can be by speaking up on their behalf, giving of your time or finances, or just taking a minute to listen. I hope we can each find that cause dear to us and advocate for it, every day.