Chevy Chase Citizens Association
Last week, our association teamed up with the Northwest Neighbors Village organization to present the program “Facing a Crisis Before It Occurs: Gathering, Storing and Sharing Important Information.”
Kay Bransford, founder of MemoryBanc, discussed important documents that people should gather and organize before a crisis occurs. Essential documents include copies of all identification and credit cards in one’s wallet; durable power of attorney; will/trust; health care power of attorney; living will; and specific instructions regarding one’s wishes, children, pets and burial. Access to such documents should be at a single location, such as a binder or flash drive. Bransford, author of the book “MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life,” launched her business after encountering difficulties when helping her own parents, who had followed traditional planning advice that didn’t address many day-to-day challenges.
Christine Bitzer of Seabury Resources for Aging Care Management focused on the importance of having a health care power of attorney, which provides for someone to make medical decisions for an individual who is unable to make those decisions herself. Such decisions can run the gamut from whether to get a flu shot to whether to continue extraordinary life-sustaining measures. Bitzer recommended having conversations with family and friends and gauging who would be best to make such decisions: someone who understands your values and will stand up for them. Be sure that the selected person has the time and is willing to take on the role, knowing what would be involved.
Stephanie Chong, executive director of Northwest Neighbors Village, stressed the importance of individuals having conversations with loved ones, especially those exercising their health care powers of attorney, about not only end-of-life care but also any personal preferences that affect quality of life and their desires for being remembered.
For example, when one is unable to communicate for oneself, it’s important for a health care representative to know and advocate for maintaining personal habits like needing to sleep with one’s socks on or not eating breakfast, to avoid being given unnecessary sleeping pills or unwanted heavy breakfast meals. In addition, sharing one’s desires for the music at one’s funeral or to whom certain mementos should be given provides family members the gift of knowing what their loved one wants.
— Jonathan Lawlor