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It’s Important To Be Ready For An Emergency

Last Tuesday was National Health Care Decision day. It is important to be prepared for dealing with an emergency or illness by choosing a health care proxy. An emergency or end of life care wishes can be a difficult subject to discuss. The “Conversation Project” is dedicated to helping people talk about their planning needs. The web site is located at theconversationproject.org. This publication can help you decide when to choose a proxy, who to choose and how to prepare your proxy. Other important planning documents can include documenting your medical treatment wishes, a will or burial arrangements. These are several things that every individual should prepare and the sooner the better. National Decision Day is a reminder that we all need to do this work and to put down our decisions in writing.

A health care proxy is a document that allows an individual, that you choose, to make certain health care decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. You should select a person you trust and who knows your wishes. It is best to review this regularly with the person chosen and let them have a copy or know where the document is kept. Your doctor should also have a copy on file. The New York State Department of Health notes that everyone over the age of 18 needs to appoint a health care agent. These are two situations in which a health care agent could be useful:

¯ Temporary inability to make health care decisions — no matter what your age is.

For example, you are having an outpatient surgical procedure and are under general anesthesia, something unexpected happens and a health care decision needs to be made. If you have a health care agent, since you are temporarily unable to make your own decisions, the health care agent may make the decision. Once you become conscious again the health care agent would no longer have any authority to act.

¯ Permanent inability to make health care decisions — this would arise if you were comatose from a terminal illness, in a persistent vegetative state, suffered from an illness that left you unable to communicate or, if elderly, suffered from senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Under these circumstances you would obviously be unable to make your own health care decisions. If you don’t have a health care agent, all appropriate medical treatments will be provided to you. If you have appointed a health care agent, your health care agent can be your voice and make your health care decisions according to your own wishes, or your best interests.

To receive a copy of a health care proxy form, you can call the Chautauqua County NY Connects or visit the Chautauqua Health Care Proxy registry at https://chqregistry.com/ to download a copy of the form with instructions. If you file it on the Chautauqua county registry it is available to the local medical care providers.

Another important document is a will. A last will and testament provides guidance to your final wishes regarding the disposition of your property after you have passed. Failure to adequately plan can lead to disputes among family and friends and unnecessary legal proceedings. Every case is unique and therefore individuals should consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action for them. You can call NY Connects to find out about legal aid opportunities. Additionally, attorneys can be found by calling the New York State Bar Referral Service at 1-800-342-3661.

We encourage people of all ages, caregivers, medical professionals and parents-everyone that is looking for help- to call and see how the NY Connects service can be helpful to you. This service is confidential and free and focused on the consumer’s needs and resources available to them. NY Connects can assist you even further by making referrals directly to several programs even while you are on the phone line saving you time and additional phone calls. You can access Chautauqua County New York Connects in many ways to fit your needs. E-mail: ccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us, Phone: Mayville 753-4582, Dunkirk 363-4582 or Jamestown 661-7582. The secure fax # is 753-4844. You can even come to our main office location at 7 North Erie St, Mayville, New York. NY Connects is brought to you by a partnership with Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County department of Health and Human Services.

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