Are You Too Old? Take this survey.

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It happened again last week. A gentleman called me to discuss becoming a advocate. He has great experience and could be very helpful to patient-clients because he is (mostly) retired from a career in human resources where he assisted employees with their journeys through the healthcare system. He seems so very well prepared to jump in as an independent, professional, health advocate or care manager.

Yet – he said he was still hesitating because (and it took me some time to pull this one out of him) – he thinks he may be too old.

Too old? I asked him, “How old is too old?”

“Well”, he said, “I’ll be 59 in July.”

I had no sympathy!  “I’ll be 66 in August”, I told him. “I started my new business as Every Patient’s Advocate at the age of 55, and I started the Alliance at the age of 57. And I haven’t slowed down one bit. In fact, if anything, my passion and focus on the work keeps me young.”

He’s now rethinking “too old.”

In general we have found that most new health and patient advocates and care managers skew a bit older. But that’s anecdotal. We don’t have research that reflects ages. But I do know we have some members of APHA who are (at least) pushing 75 or older. We also members who are in their 30s.

There is also some sense that patients and caregivers prefer someone who is a “little older” – meaning – they have more life experience and may be able to troubleshoot or uncover resources someone younger might not have been exposed to. But again – that’s anecdotal, and I doubt it’s even true.

It’s a great question, don’t you think?  Let’s figure it out.  Please take this quiz – and then we’ll have a much better idea of who (and who isn’t) – “too old.”

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Comments

  1. Kathy King  June 4, 2017

    Thanks for this Trisha. We are in good company here. Younger or older – it’s our life experiences and our passion that drives us (at least me) to do good work for our clients. Would I have been the same advocate at thirty that I am now at sixty-two ? No. Being a daughter, wife, mother, patient, student and business owner over all these years has given me a much clearer view of our human condition and how it relates to our healthcare landscape. I plan to work until I am at least 75. Lots to do!

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  2. Rae Drazin, Ph.D.  June 4, 2017

    I think this is one profession where increasing age is an advantage. Many of our clients are elderly, and I feel that they prefer working with someone who has had the life experience that comes with age. I also think that it’s easier to be assertive when you are not so young. It’s been my experience that medical practitioners are more likely to respect a more “mature” advocate and take her/him more seriously.

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  3. Claire Morley  June 8, 2017

    Thank you for this piece reflecting on age. I am fairly new to this site and just started my own advocacy business this year, but can honestly say it is with my years of experience in many areas that brings me the confidence to do the job well. When I tell people what I am currently doing, no one has said, “Don’t you think you are too old to do that?” Instead the response has been only positive and they say, “With your experience, this is a perfect thing for you to be doing!” And I will have to admit, I fall into the 65-69 yo bracket in the breakdown. So, with enthusiasm, I am excited to say I hope to be actively involved in advocacy for many years to come!

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