Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate

Topic: Why Am I “Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate?

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman-Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate

A colleague asked me…” Why are you called Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate?… Here is my answer. At 15-years old, I saved the life of my pool manager. I was a lifeguard back in the day. He left the pool office to change a chlorine tank. I found it odd that it took him a while to return. Upon searching for him, I found him semi-conscious and bearly breathing because he had inhaled chlorine gas. My first-aid training came in handy that day. Placing oxygen on him, turning him on his side to prevent aspiration of vomit saved his life. Fast-forward to becoming a nurse and working in the acute-care environment, paying attention to my patients’ subjective and objective behaviors and movements helped me avoid many calamities, falls, medication errors, verifying doctor orders, code blues, and more. Fast-forward to becoming a full-time caregiver, all that I encountered as a youth and adult; I brought to the caregiver space.

I had to look at the caregiving environment globally, meaning what I would be experiencing caring for an elderly person and educating myself on the ‘What Ifs’ of the role. The ‘What Ifs’ set the journey of being proactive. Let’s define ‘proactive.’ According to Merriam-Webster(2022), proactive is acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes. You can also consider farseeing, farsighted, forward-looking, visionary, and forecasting. Can you see the picture?

Caring for my mother’s safety was always in view in the caregiving space. When she was preparing her medication for a time, I would check to make sure she had all the right medication for the day. When I found a pill on the floor, my proactive behaviors kicked in. I started watching her and later took over the task entirely to avoid wrong medication dosing. When I noticed that the quad cane she was using did not balance her, she graduated to a walker for stability to prevent falls. This was a proactive step(forward-looking). When I observed that her vision was failing(she kept asking for brighter lighting in her room), I got her eyes checked and found that she had cataracts. Had I avoided paying attention to this observation, she could have hurt herself. And when I saw she was declining and her soft voice was weakening, and her body was getting tired, I put her in hospice care. The love of seeing, knowing, and accepting was proactive. Since her passing in 2017, I have shared with others the importance of paying attention, even when your loved one does not know you are paying attention. It will prevent hurt, harm, and danger. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, my mission is to educate, inform, and inspire by using my voice in the caregiving space. Be well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.