Sunday, August 23, 2015


Now, more than ever, you need to have your life decisions in place. Below is a proactive guide to what you need.

Let's talk first about who you are, your medical conditions, and how you want to be treated by first responders and physicians.

Every senior citizen should have a wearable ID for their own safety -- a dog-tag, a wrist bracelet. If you have a serious medical condition you should wear a medical identification tag, engraved with instructions that are important to your medical care. Tags come in various sizes, shapes, and are available at drugstores, by mail, or at online sources. Most jewelry stores will order one and engrave it to your specifications. (Medic, Medic Alert Foundation, and American Medical ID.

A Vial-of-Life document is a concise record of your medical
information to be used in an emergency. The information assists medics in providing essential proper care.

Create a basic "Vial of Life" from an empty prescription bottle. On a slip of paper list:

1.     Your name, birthdate.
2.     Primary care doctor and contact information.
3.     Current prescriptions, vitamins and supplements you take.
4.     Immunizations and blood type
5.     Who to contact in an emergency.
Roll the list. Insert into the bottle.Tape the bottle under the right-hand corner of the top shelf in your refrigerator. Put a Vial of Life sticker near your door and on the outside of your refrigerator. (Vial of Life for printable free online forms.)

Advanced care directives are legal documents. If you haven't made yours, ask your lawyer or physician's office for the form and ask them to help you complete that vital legal document. Make certain your wishes are stated clearly. Many state laws kick in when you become incapacitated, and you may not agree with all of them. Without your completed document, conflicts may arise and put you in a difficult situation.

A Living Will allows you to specify your directives for medical care when you become unable to communicate them. For instance, you might state that no extraordinary measures, ie., tube feedings, respirator, be used in the case of a catastrophic injury, terminal illness or dementia  ~ whether it be Alzheimer's, Multi-infart, or other type ~ the patient can live from a few weeks or months to many years.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health (DPAH) is another important legal document you should complete. Your DPAH states the person authorized to make your medical care decisions when, for whatever reason, you are unable to make them.
Because all states do not have reciprocal laws, consider completing a DPAH for each state you routinely visit Advanced Directives by state.

Many hospitals have Living Will and  DPAH forms available. The hospital's Notary Public Officer can notarize them, generally free of charge. Stationary stores and many bookstores also carry them. You can also have your advanced directives stored online, retrievable by doctors and hospitals. 

Living Wills and Advance Directives, while initially appearing complicated, are designed to simplify concerns. They can complicate matters when validation or specific criteria must be evaluated, but without them, end-of-life concerns can mushroom and become overwhelming.

It's far worse to become critically ill or to die without proper documents on file. Protect yourself.

Complete each of these Medical-legal documents and put them where they'll be easily available.

·       Place a card inside your wallet stating where to find your directives.
·       Carry a set of copies in sturdy clear plastic sleeves with you when you leave home
·       Be sure your doctor has a copy of each document.  

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