It happened again last week. A gentleman called me to discuss becoming an 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 have 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.”