There are things we all need to plan for, be prepared for, and know where to find things in the event of an invisible emergency, illness, or accident. Age doesn’t dictate need – being prepared does. I’m talking about health guidelines, financial guidelines, and end-of-life issues.

Generally, these elements are called advance directives. It is very important to start conversations with your friends and family about who will do what, what you want and where to find important documents. If you’ve ever been in an emergency, the last thing you need is not finding what you’re looking for: insurance cards, health care proxies, medications and health lists – it’s all important in an emergency. How are you prepared? Planning ahead will save you time and help you manage those documents when you need them.

Eldercare locator has a great post on all things health, finance, law, and end of life. It is called “Let’s talk” and can be found on the web at

This resource helps guide families and friends through a conversation and begin to identify what is important to their loved ones. It reminds us to discuss where documents are kept like health records, health care proxies, insurance information, medication list and powers of attorney. He also recommends other publications to help have that conversation with your medical providers. AARP has a Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families. There are many resources online and from different agencies.

A power of attorney is used to help manage property matters and financial directives. An estate will help identify assets that will be passed on to others. Advance directives clearly outline the type of care you want to receive if you become seriously ill and cannot speak for yourself. A health care proxy can make the necessary medical decisions if you cannot speak for yourself. Trusts are a way to manage resources like property. The MOLST form is used in nursing homes, hospitals and hospices. A Do Not Resuscitate community is discussed and initiated by your primary care physician to prevent CPR by emergency personnel in your home.

The Chautauqua County NY Connects program can provide information and assistance about available long-term services and support options to the senior population, people with disabilities of all ages, and caregivers. Information and assistance are available in a variety of ways, including telephone access, face-to-face meetings in the community, or email. NY Connects can be reached through its statewide phone number (800-342-9871), which connects callers to local offices by county. If you need information about programs, services, benefits, or fees, you can call the Chautauqua County NY Connects program. There is an online resource tool called the NY Connects Resource Directory. Go to take a look.

Take the time to regularly discuss with your family and friends what is important to you! This is a conversation that should be revisited regularly – things change and the conversation needs to continue. The Eldercare Locator recommends reviewing your plan using the 5 “D”: every ten years, after the death of a relative, after a divorce, after a significant diagnosis and after any significant decline. As difficult as it may seem to initiate these types of conversations, your family and friends will thank you for sharing and caring about them and preparing them for what might come. These conversations bring people together; just knowing that you can count on someone is invaluable. Take the time to talk about emergencies!

There are NY Connects programs located with the Office for Aging Services and the SouthWestern Independent Living Center. You can reach NY Connects by phone: 716-753-4582, email: [email protected] Southwestern Independent Living NY Connects at 716-661-3010 or 716-490-7561.

The state’s NY Connects Resource Directory can be viewed at

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