Friday, June 26, 2009

A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

Being organized is not confined to physical spaces. Information we take for granted could become very valuable and difficult for a loved one to locate if we aren’t able to do it for ourselves. Writing down medical histories, doctor information, emergency contacts, etc. is not something that only older people need to worry about. This list is really something that we all need.

A few months ago, my mom went into the hospital unexpectedly and I was able to step in and help her and her husband. My mom, a very organized Virgo, carried a lot of information in her head that she would download to me during my daily hospital visits. By the end of the week I was well versed in my mom and her husband’s routines. Thank goodness my mother was lucid and able to tell me what to do, but it occurred to me if she hadn’t been, I would have been stuck figuring out some important things like medication doses. The producer in me got into action. During my downtime, I started to compile an Excel spreadsheet outlining some pertinent information for family members to know should my mom not be available. She was resistant at first, but then it became a project.

The sheet I made for my family was broken down by name and divided into categories, i.e., Medical History, Medications, Doctors’ Contact Info, Immediate Family Members Contact Info, Power of Attorney, Social Security #, Caregivers, Nearest Hospital, etc. The format can be tailored in any way that works for you, but should be put in an obvious place where a friend or family member could find it. I recommend by the phone or on the refrigerator.

I live in New York City and not to sound morbid, but after surviving 9/11, blackouts and just ordinary daily life, I decided to start an “In Case of Emergency” binder divided into sections labeled: Insurance, Investments, Accounts, Health Care Proxy and Living Will, etc. It’s not complete yet, but it’s a start and hopefully will make things easier for my family to settle matters on my behalf, because you just never know!

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