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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Be prepared for what’s ahead


As the New Year begins, I look back on the successes and failures of the past year and try to figure out ways to do better in the new year. After all, I’m supposed to be getting older and wiser and we’re all supposed to learn from past mistakes.

I don’t limit myself to consider only the mistakes I have made, but I also look to see if I can learn from things that made my friends’ lives harder. After reviewing all this information, I’ve decided that one area of my life that needs to be improved falls under the Scout motto – Be Prepared.

I’ve found that my brain doesn’t always work at its best during stressful times. I know that if I ever need to call an ambulance, the first things the paramedics are going to ask for is a list of medications and for the name of my primary care physician. I’m not sure if they would want my birth date, but every medical office seems to ask for it. One of my friends suggested that I could just take a picture of all the bottles of medicines and vitamin supplements I take. The information on the prescription bottles would include the strength and the dosages of all my medicines. It would also include the name of the doctor who prescribed them.

A few years ago, the Naperville/Lisle TRIAD gave older people a plastic envelope with a magnet on it. The goal was for the senior citizen to list important information like prescriptions and the names of people to contact in an emergency on a sheet of paper in the plastic envelope. The envelope would hang on the refrigerator. You could include any extra information that you felt would be helpful in a time of emergency. Information about medical insurance would also be helpful. If you had pets, you could list a specific friend or neighbor to call to take care of the pet if you were hospitalized. You could also include a copy of your wishes if you had signed a formal “Do Not Resuscitate” order with your doctor.

When I told one of my sons about the topic for this month’s column, he thought this type of information applies to all ages, not just older people. Then I asked if he knew where to find the information about my funeral arrangements!

When my husband, Terry, started having health problems, we preplanned our funerals. It wasn’t easy to discuss the issue while he was alive. In retrospect, I don’t know how I otherwise could have handled it when he died. It is so hard to make decisions when you are emotional. Our prepayments are not held by the funeral home, but by financial institution where interest is being earned.

It’s never easy to discuss things like medical emergencies or funerals and I hope none of us has to deal with these issues in 2023.

But if I, or any member of my family, must deal with either situation; being prepared will be helpful.

Furthermore, if I get these tasks done, I’ll probably feel the same way that I feel when I pay my insurance bill each year: so glad I didn’t need to use it but also glad I have it. Maybe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Sue Jelinek
Sue Jelinek
Sue Jelinek welcomes story ideas from ship to shore. Contact her at jelinst@sbcglobal.net.