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Life Altering Incidents, Are You Prepared?

As we go about our daily lives, how often do we watch others experience sudden illnesses or incidents? This could be friends or distant relatives and we have compassion for their situations. But are you prepared if the worst happens to you or your immediate family? Experiencing a personal life altering illness or incident can affect you in many ways. A sudden diagnosis or accident could lead to months or years of medical treatment and can completely change a family’s resource pool. Could your family deal with the stress of such an event? Preparing for the worst is not something we think much about, but in many ways it has become more relevant in today’s society. So how do we do this? Open conversations with loved ones and living wills are a great place to start.

Living wills are very important to have in place if you are unable to communicate. This also relieves your family of making some very difficult decisions. Living wills provide your end of life wishes for physicians to follow in the event of a debilitating illness or event. Advance directives or medical power of attorney allows you to name a person to make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot do so for yourself. The Mayo Clinic states “advance directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you’re terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.” There are many misconceptions today that only seniors should have these in place, but that is wrong. Adults of any age should have these in place.

These are difficult conversations, but are well worth the time and effort. Only you know how you want your health care decisions to be handled and this relieves anyone else from making some tough and heart breaking decisions sometimes. Select someone you trust to follow your wishes and that is not afraid to question your care and advocate for you. If you have young children, it would be best to have these conversations not only with your spouse or significant other, but also with other friends and family that would be relied upon for care of those children in the event of illness or tragedy. Spend some time no matter your age, determining your health care wishes in many different scenarios. For instance, would you want lifelong care if you were not self-sufficient? Independence is very important to many and they do not wish to be a burden on others. There are many different levels of care you can opt into or out of. Things like palliative care (keeping you comfortable, but not providing any treatment), resuscitation if your heart stops and mechanical ventilation if you stop breathing on your own.

According to The Conversation Project, “90% of people report talking to their loved ones about end of life care is important but, only 27% actually have done so.” The Conversation Project has many resources to help you determine your wishes and how to convey those to others. This is a thorough, thought provoking guide that allows you to make your wishes known. Please think about starting a conversation soon.


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