2 Legal Documents Everyone Needs Before They get Sick

By Roz Jones

Being ill is no fun. Neither is being unable to participate in making personal medical decisions. If you are unconscious or unable to articulate your consent for treatment, a medical provider or next of kin may have to make them for you. Preserving life is always the plan, but sometimes, believe it or not, you may not want that to be the plan. It is often easy to become overwhelmed and emotional when taking care of a loved one. Don’t let that stop you from preparing for the next steps. As a caregiver it’s important that we plan ahead for all circumstances.

Here are a few scenarios where life-saving measures might not be your first choice:

Scenario #1. A terminally ill patient with a disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s may not want to be fed through a tube or given antibiotics after a certain stage of their disease.

Scenario #2. A brain-damaged individual who will have to live indefinitely outside of their home in a facility may not want to be on a breathing tube or dialysis or other artificial life-saving machines.

Scenario #3. Someone with a pacemaker or other device may want it removed if their condition worsens to a certain point.

Under certain circumstances, life-saving measures make perfect sense. When recovery is likely and quality of life is high, it is worth the effort and time it takes to recover or endure life-saving measures. However, there may be times or circumstances where a caregiver needs to draw a line in the medical sand.

There are two legal documents that will make it clear to providers and your family that you do not want measures taken and if you do, what they are and when they stop.

An Advance Directive
A Do Not Resuscitate
(DNR)

An Advance Directive: An Advance Directive is a tool used to make end-of-life decisions ahead of time, alleviating medical staff and your family from having to make them. Your Advance Directive is a legal document that you can add to your will or trust so it is easily accessible if it needs to be enforced.

A DNR: A document that denies life-saving measures if your heart stops beating or you are unable to breath on your own.

These documents will help caregivers prevent life-saving measures that might prolong suffering or low-quality living. Consult your primary care physician to learn more and make the decisions that are right for you.

To get more information on end of life planning, be sure to purchase your copy of my upcoming book, Lifted. Enjoy!

Be Prepared For Natural Disasters In Your Area

By Roz Jones

Natural disasters appear in all parts of the world, and no matter where you live, chances are that you will encounter several of them throughout your lifetime. Depending on where you live, they may happen, or at least threaten your home much more frequently. It’s easy to see why it is important to be prepared for them, especially when you are caring for a loved one in the midst of it.

The first thing you need to know is what type of emergencies and disasters you can expect in your area. We can all be affected by fire and winter storms that shut down roads and power are likely across the country as well. From there it depends on where you live. Your town may be prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and the likes. Do your homework, watch the news, talk to your neighbors and figure out what natural disasters you should prepare for. A great source for information is your local government, particularly emergency services. Many will not only be able to make you aware of any dangers, but also have brochures, plans, and other resources that will help you prepare for any eventuality. 

Once you know what natural disasters you can expect where you live, it’s time to learn how to best respond to them. Will you likely wait things out in your home, or will you be required to evacuate? Are there emergency shelters or evacuation routes you should be aware of? Do those shelters meet the needs of those you are caring for?

Once you have the basics down, figure out a plan for securing your home, yard and vehicles depending on the disaster. What can you do to make sure your property has the best possible chance to come out of the disaster undamaged? If you’re in an area prone to flooding, having sand bags on hand can be invaluable. Again, what you need will greatly depend on where you live and what natural disaster you can expect. 

Having a good emergency kit that includes food, water, medication, first aid kit, flash light, radio and a few tools is a good idea. Every household should have a kit that’s kept in good order and is easy to reach in an emergency. 

Make sure you are aware of the potential threats as early as possible so you can prepare. Set up alerts on your phone, sign up for local emergency preparedness emails, and keep an eye on the news and social media if you think there is a potential for a disaster. The earlier you know the better you can react and prepare. Listen to local authorities and don’t hesitate to evacuate should the need arise. Things can be replaced, people can’t.

Keeping Important Documents Safe and Secure

By Roz Jones

We hope and pray that nothing will happen to our home, but it’s a good idea to be prepared “just in case”. You likely have insurance on your home and many material things in your house can be easily replaced should disaster strike. Other things like photos and important documents can be hard or impossible to replace. Missing documents can make it harder to rebuild after disaster strikes. That’s why it is a good idea to keep them safe and secure. 

Invest In A Fire Safe 

A good fire safe will survive a lot of damage. Invest in a quality one for any documents you want to keep at home. You can get a fairly small box that can be stashed away in a closet or cabinet. Make sure both you and your spouse know where the safe is kept and has a key to open it. 

Get A Bank Deposit Box 

You may also want to rent a bank deposit box and store important documents, or notarized copies of them there. This will come in handy when you need the information on the documents (i.e. your insurance policy number), or you need to replace documents that didn’t survive a home emergency. 

Make Physical Copies 

It’s amazing how much easier it is to get a replacement passport or birth certificate if you have a copy of the original. That’s why it’s helpful to make these paper copies and keep them in a secure offsite location (like a bank deposit box). You could also keep them at a family member’s home. Make sure the copies are stored safely to avoid issues like identity theft. 

Make Digital Copies And Store Them Online 

Last but not least, go ahead and scan the documents or take pictures of them with your phone and store them on a secure online server. Places like Deposit Box, or even Google Photo will store quite a bit of information for you free of charge. Since your document scans are living in the cloud, you can easily access them from anywhere with your phone or a borrowed computer. This also makes it easy to email them off to insurance agents, or government officials to get replacement documents made. 

Spend a little time this week to sort through your most important documents and get your paperwork in order. It won’t take you long to scan them, take pictures of them, and/or make photocopies. The little work you’re doing now to be prepared will potentially save you a lot of headache down the road. 

Make it a point to revisit your documents every 6 months to make sure everything is up to date and in order. Once the original setup is done, it will be much easier to keep up with it. You’ll likely only need to change out one or two document copies a year.