As we grow older, it is common for us to worry about becoming disabled, sick, or just how things will be when we get too old to care for ourselves. The best way to ensure that you will receive the help and care that you desire is to begin planning early, inform your family, and update your plans regularly to make sure they continuously reflect you needs accurately.
Here are some suggestions for the planning process:
1. Have a Power of Attorney and/or Advance Directive put into place. This will prove very helpful in the event that you are not able to make your own decisions.
2. Create and maintain a record of your health. Include every surgery, disability, and notable illness. This will help your care team provide the best and most accurate care for you.
3. Make sure that you have contact information for all of your physicians and specialists readily available for your spouse, Power of Attorney, and/or family to access in case of an emergency.
4. Keep track of all the medications you have taken long-term, even if you are no longer taking them. Some medications can have side effects that appear years after you finish taking them.
5. Keep your family up to date about what is going on with you. Make sure that someone you trust is aware of any sicknesses, injuries, falls, or recent symptoms so if anything happens to you they can tell your doctors or the hospital.
6. Make sure all of your doctors are aware of each other and any treatment plans they have you on. Making sure that everyone is on the same page helps cut out misunderstandings, unnecessary tests, and protect you from misdiagnosis.
7. Make all of your information, plans, and desires known and make sure that there is documentation of what you want and all your information available to all necessary parties. This may mean keeping a copy of everything with a spouse, sibling, son/daughter, or close friend. If you have any serious conditions, you may also want to have a neighbor with your information or leave it with your landlord.
Stay safe and stay healthy!