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Advance Health Care Directives

Tips on Who Should Take Care of You in Case of an Emergency

No one likes to think about what might happen in an emergency situation. Nevertheless, it’s better to have a plan in place for peace of mind and to ensure your wellbeing. While some extreme emergencies require you to call 9-1-1, there might be other scenarios where you need someone to help you with your daily needs, should you become incapacitated in some way.

To avoid any undue stress, identify who your emergency contacts are ahead if timebased on proximity, frequency of visits, and ease of mobility. You may even want to consider multiple emergency contacts.

In terms of identifying emergency contacts by proximity, a neighbor, close friend, or nearby family member is a good first choice. Not only will someone who lives close be able to respond to an emergency scenario quickly, but they will be familiar with the area and will know exactly how to access your residence should you not be able to let them in. The faster the response time, the more quickly you can receive the medical attention you need.

In terms of frequency, think about who visits you regularly and you’re comfortable with, and give them a key to your home. It’s good to have people who drop by on a regular basis, in case you’re unable to get to the phone. This way if something happens, there are people who will check in on you. Once your immediate needs are met in terms of medical attention, this contact can do a quick walk-through of your home to make sure all doors and windows are locked, no electrical appliances were left running, and your possessions are secure. If you wind up having to go to the hospital or are incapacitated, they should be able to care for your home and any pets you may have.

An ideal emergency contact will have their own reliable transportation and ease of mobility, so they can assist you effectively.

One emergency contact that should be decided on immediately is a health care proxy. This is the person who would make decisions about your medical care should anything happen that may render you unable to make important decisions. Situations can occur in which you’re unconscious or legally determined unable to make sound decisions. The health care proxy’s responsibility is to make the decisions they believe you would choose for yourself.

This person should be someone you trust who knows you well and who lives in the area. Talk to this person about your decision before going to a lawyer to draft the necessary documents to make it official.

Always remember to be clear with your emergency contacts about what their responsibilities are. Discuss this designation with them ahead of time and provide them with the opportunity to ask you questions, so they’re clear on what they should know in advance. Should they be contacted in the case of an emergency, they will need to respond quickly. Any confusion could slow down their response time.

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