In times of tragedy we are reminded how little we have control over in our daily lives. But there are some steps you can take right now in preparation for the future to help protect your loved ones from confusion, frustration and the struggle with emotionally difficult decisions during a time of medical emergency.
Nobody wants to think about a future where they are sick or disabled and can no longer care for their loved ones. But when illness or injury strikes, few are prepared and families are often left with a difficult task of tracking down important information like what bills need to be paid or where long term care insurance paperwork or the deed to the house is kept.
By creating a plan in case of a medical emergency, much of the confusion and stress surrounding such an event can be avoided. And families can focus on getting the best care for their loved one and moving forward with plans for the future.
According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults can start by creating a file of basic personal information and where family can find legal documents including advanced care directives (living will), financial records, insurance information or the location of a safe deposit box. Pet owners will want to have someone named to care for the animal and a file with records and contact information of the veterinarian.
Beyond full basic information like legal name, social security number, place of birth, names and addresses of spouse or children and employment records, a full and updated list of medications taken should be on hand in a visible place in the home. Many older adults post a list of medications and a family contact number on the fridge or near the phone. The Oldish has a Medication Checklist available for members in its Toolkit. A free membership is required, however, as the medications you take are your own business therefore a password protected free account is required.
Not everything can be planned for in advance but taking the time to get your affairs in order while you can not only gives everyone concerned some piece of mind, it is an ideal opportunity to ensure your wishes will be honored in the event of a medical emergency.
To learn more about advance care planning, visit the NIH Institute on Aging by following this link.