This week, I had a personal experience that I’d like to share with members of the Self-Reliance Institute.
The experience was a good reminder for me about being prepared for the type of event that we rarely talk about with our friends or even our families.
I hope my experience will serve as a catalyst for you to be sure you’re ready.
We often discuss what we’d do if we lost power for an extended period of time or if we were caught up in a natural disaster that made our home unlivable.
We talk about how to protect ourselves and our families from intruders. We talk about what we’d do if we were cut off from a regular source of food and nourishment.
We talk about major events from the outside world that could disrupt our lives and what we can do to be self-reliant if one of those events takes place.
But sometimes it’s the smaller aspects of life that we forget to prepare for so that, if the unexpected arises from within, others can easily take care of those details.
Let me be specific and share my experience.
I have a friend (to protect my friend’s privacy, I’m going to avoid sharing any information that might give away my friend’s identity) who needed to take care of a medical issue right after the beginning of the year. My friend lives alone but has family scattered around the country.
This friend is highly successful and the type of individual who normally is the most organized person you could ever meet. The medical issue, while serious, was not a complete surprise and there was time to be prepared for the needed medical procedure and the impacts it might have on day to day life.
Like everyone else who knows this individual, I assumed my friend was prepared in case things did not go as well as everyone hoped. In other words, we assumed our friend had considered the possibility that the medical treatment might not go exactly as planned and there could be a period of time when others would need to take care of the day to day issues that arise in life.
Sadly, after several weeks of doing well, my friend’s medical condition has taken a dramatic turn to the downside and I’ve just returned from a hastily arranged 36-hour trip to see my friend for what may be the last time.
In addition to the obvious concerns my friend’s family has about the serious medical challenges they are dealing with, they are now learning that my friend didn’t prepare to be incapacitated. Now they are trying to figure out all the issues that must be addressed to maintain my friend’s day to day life so that if my friend does recover that life won’t be in shambles.
While it seems mundane to most of us, issues like being sure monthly bills are monitored and paid can suddenly become major problems if the proper information is not easily located and useable by family or someone designated with power of attorney.
In fact, as I’ve seen first-hand more than once in my life, not being prepared for an extended illness can result in substantial stress on family members and friends who need to step in while the individual is incapacitated.
So here’s my suggestion for everyone who belongs to the Self-Reliance Institute. At least once a year, be sure to create a list of all the day to day items that must be taken care of in your life in the event you are incapacitated for several days, a week, a month, or longer.
Once you’ve created the list, be sure you provide it to a trusted family member or friend. And, if you don’t have an immediate family member who has the ability to pay your bills while you are incapacitated, be sure to grant power of attorney to a responsible individual who can act in your place if the need arises.
I’ll address all of these issues in more detail in future advisories. But, having just returned from seeing a friend who is fighting to stay alive, I am struck by how much additional stress the extended family is dealing with as they try to piece together what needs to be done to keep my friend’s home and daily life in order.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.
Have you faced a similar crisis in your life or the life of a family member or close friend?
Have you taken steps to be prepared in case you are incapacitated?
Do you have suggestions I can share with other members?
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