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Preparing for Illness in the COVID-19 World

My symptoms for the suspected COVID-19 illness began three weeks ago with a fever, fatigue, nausea, and a loss of my sense of smell and taste. While I was one of the extremely fortunate patients who ultimately did not struggle with shortness of breath, the fear that I could become short of breath at any moment was real and the anxiety almost crippling at times. Now that I am finally feeling better, I have been thinking about ways to help those of you who are living on a daily basis with the fear of developing symptoms.

Prepare for the COVID-19 Illness

I’d like to say that I have words of wisdom that can help lessen your anxiety but other than limiting watching the news, finding a show on TV or a book that can distract you for periods of time (thank you, Succession!), and trying to take it one day at a time, I don’t have much advice. One thing you can do, however, to add a sense of control, is to be as ready as possible if you do develop serious symptoms. Here are some suggestions:

Organize Your Medical Information

One of the things we recommend to all our clients is to prepare for a medical emergency. If you must call 911 and go to the emergency room, having a written summary of your personal and medical information will be invaluable for medical personnel. You should attach copies of your insurance cards, recent blood work results, health care proxy, and other advanced directive documents.

Complete a Health Care Proxy

  • If you become ill and are not able to communicate, it is essential that you designate someone who can communicate with medical personnel and make medical decisions that align with your wishes for you. This can be done with an attorney or you can use this online form.

  • Keep in mind the following when choosing your proxy:

    • Your proxy does not have to be a relative.

    • Will the person make the decisions you would want even if his or her wishes are different?

    • Are they assertive?

    • Are they comfortable talking about death?

    • Do they live nearby?

    • Will the person be good at making decisions in changing circumstances?

    • Who will speak for you?

Discuss Your End-of-Life Wishes

Make sure your health care proxy and loved ones know how you define quality of life and what your wishes would be for various medical interventions if you become seriously ill. The following are recommended to serve as guides for documenting your wishes:

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About this Author

Lori Kayne Geriatric Social Worker at Norris McLaughlin Law Firm specializing in Eldeer Law
Geriatric Social Worker

Lori Kayne has been working as a Geriatric Social Worker in the healthcare field for over 20 years. At Norris McLaughlin she works in collaboration with an Elder Care Attorney to develop a detailed Life Care Plan that addresses the health, safety and care concerns of her clients as they impact their legal and financial planning. She and the attorney work with clients and their families for an extended period helping them navigate the healthcare maze and plan proactively.

Prior to joining the firm, Lori was a Geriatric Social Worker at WanderPolo & Siegel law firm. She also...