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Tip Tuesday – Health Directives & Decision-Making: Do It!

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If you watch my “Live at Five” on Sundays you will know this somber story already. Last week, while visiting my older sister in Florida, I went to wake her up for an early doctor’s appointment. She was totally incoherent and unable to move so I called 911. When the paramedics arrived, their first question was “Does she have a health care directive?”

Sadly, I did not know. Please, don’t let this happen to you.  

I strongly encourage you to fill in an Advanced Care Directive NOW and make sure others in your home know where to find it if needed. This is a clear written instruction about future medical care should you become unable to make decisions (for example, unconscious or too ill to communicate). Each state has its own form. For Virginia, you can find one HERE.

It is a simple PDF that needs to be filled in, printed out, and signed while witnessed by two people. What isn’t so simple are the conversations that you may need to have to make these decisions. But trust me, you want to make these decisions while you are calm and healthy, NOT when you are in distress.

As a friend said, taking care of this directive (as well as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney) is like writing a “love letter to your family.” Will YOU fill in your Healthcare Directive? Have you already? And importantly, does your family know where to find it in an emergency? Please, let me know in the comments. And remember, I am a Professional Organizer, not a lawyer, so you may want to run this by a legal professional.

PS: Happily, they revived my sister and she is feeling MUCH better now. I am feeling very grateful for the paramedics’ swift decision-making, and for this lesson learned.