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A Little Too Close To Home

Received word this last week that there are 2 cases of COVID-19 at my mom’s assisted living facility. Both are residents and both residents are now in the hospital. Since then three staff members tested positive. This facility has been in lockdown for 8 weeks but of course the staff do not stay at the facility 24/7.

This has led to a flurry of calls between my siblings and me. If our mom develops COVID what is our plan of action? I am the health care power of attorney but I want my siblings on board with everything. I want their backing. As a caregiver do you have a plan of action? Have you shared it with family? Has everyone agreed to that plan? Is there a living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare in place for your loved one? Even better, have you seen and filled out the “Five Wishes”?

If not, I would highly recommend obtaining one for your loved one and for yourself. You can purchase large quantities online, download a PDF for one copy, or obtain one from a nearby hospital.

About 2 years ago my mom and I filled out her Five Wishes. Five Wishes meets the legal requirements for advanced directives in 42 states and the District of Columbia. It includes a designation of who is your Health Care Power of Attorney, what kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want, how comfortable you want to be, how you want people to treat you, and what you want your loved ones to know. Each section is easy to follow and much can be added or changed. The form does not need to be notarized but should be signed by two outside parties, not family members. After completed, a copy should be given to your loved one’s doctor and a nearby hospital.

So, what do you do if your loved ones wishes are not known? If they are coherent and of sound mind but in lockdown at their facility, it may be time to call them and go over the Five Wishes with them over the phone. A conference call with a trusted friend who can sign the form would be a good idea. If your loved one can no longer make decisions, a healthcare surrogate form will need to be filled out and signed by 2 physicians. This can be done in the facility, usually with the help of a social worker.

My prayer is, of course, is that we never have to use our plan but it’s in place and we all agreed to it. It is always better to have something in place prior to a crisis than have to try to piece together a plan in the middle of a crisis.

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