Once, I attended a conference where they played an original song that was written especially for the event. It was called “This Changes Everything.” That song title could also be a motto for the “new normal” we all find ourselves in today. Change is all around us. But what is change but an opportunity to learn? We have been given the perfect opportunity to take our time of quiet and solitude to make sure that we have informed our family, loved ones, healthcare providers and advisors of our wishes. Does your family know who your first choice is for a hospital, specialist, home care provider, senior living facility or hospice company. Do they know your wishes if you should become incapacitated? Are your legal documents such as will, trust, POA and Healthcare POA up to date? Does a trusted person know where your documents are kept and information about your finances?
Imagine a 54 year old woman, dreaming of retirement with her husband, her 3rd grandchild on the way, and then a terminal cancer diagnosis comes. By the time the illness is identified, this woman’s cognitive abilities have been damaged. Her family makes every decision regarding her care based on assumptions. There is doubt in everything they do. No one knows which hospital she likes, where she wants to spend her last days, her wishes for the transfer of her personal possessions, or how she would like to be remembered and celebrated. All because she was too young to talk about these things, and because talking about the future is scary. Sorry mom, but we did the best we could.
As an Ohio Notary Public, I have firsthand experiences with folks who waited too long to prepare. I receive phone calls from families who are desperate to get their legal documents in order, but their loved one doesn’t understand the document or can no longer hold a pen, so we are unable to complete the transaction. That can mean something as small as the inability to transfer a car title, to a crisis where no one can make healthcare decisions legally to financial burdens and estate issues.
This pandemic allows us the time to research options and put it all down on paper. Don’t worry, your ideas, attitudes, and wishes can change, and documents can be updated, but it is a great start. Make a plan today. As the song says, “When we’re desperate for a breakthrough, we find hope.”