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Prepare and plan for honoring and protecting your loved ones
Senior Moments
Rich DeLong is the Executive Director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

People ask me all the time what types of forms are the most-important to have as their loved one ages. I’m not an expert on all the forms that are available; but I have a few on my list that I believe are necessary for honoring and protecting your loved one when a health crisis or issue arises.

The first is Georgia’s Yellow Dot Program, which is a free program that may help save your life or the life of someone you love.. When seconds count, it is critical to make sure first responders have the information they need. Providing information on medical conditions, medications and allergies will help medical professionals make the best decision about your emergency medical treatment. This form is extremely important if you live alone and have a medical emergency. The Georgia Yellow Dot Program lets first responders know that you have completed a personal information form and where they can find it.

How does it work? It’s as simple as filling out a form and placing a Yellow Dot decal on your vehicle or near the main entrance to your home. This decal will alert first responders that vital medical information is stored in the glove compartment of your vehicle or on the refrigerator in your home.

How does one participate in the program? The Georgia Yellow Dot Program is being piloted in specific counties. Chatham and Bryan counties are now in the process of offering this program; and the Greater Savannah Coalition On Aging (GSCOA) is helping to promote the program. As a member of the Coalition, please contact me if you would like more information and the form for the Yellow Dot Program. You will need a packet for your home and for each vehicle you drive. Packets should be completed per person.

Another form is the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. All competent adults have the right to be informed about their medical treatment and to refuse that treatment for any reason. Sometimes this can be confusing, especially while one is a hospital patient or is in need of medical care. The best way to be sure your voice is heard in a medical setting is to write down your wishes in advance.

As of July 1, 2007, residents of Georgia now have one document called the "Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare." This new format combines the old Georgia Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare into one comprehensive document. Old forms completed prior to this date are still valid and will still be accepted as the patient’s legal wishes.

The new directive has four parts:

Part One — Health Care Agent. This part allows you to choose someone to make health care decisions for you when you cannot (or do not want to) make health care decisions for yourself. The person you choose is called a health care agent. You may also have your health care agent make decisions for you after your death with respect to an autopsy, organ donation, body donation, and final disposition of your body. You should talk to your health care agent about this important role.

Part Two — Treatment Preferences. This part allows you to state your treatment preferences if you have a terminal condition or if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness. Part Two only becomes pertinent if you are unable to communicate your treatment preferences. Reasonable and appropriate efforts will be made to communicate with you about your treatment preferences before Part Two becomes effective. You should talk to your family and others close to you about your treatment preferences.

Part Three — Guardianship. This part allows you to nominate a person to be your guardian should one ever be needed.

Part Four — Effectiveness and Signatures. This part requires your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. You must complete Part Four if you have filled out any other part of this form.

Important points to remember regarding advanced directives include the following. The person must be a fully competent adult to complete an Advance Directive. These documents are only in effect if you are not able to express your own thoughts and wishes about treatment issues. Advance Directives only cover healthcare decisions and have nothing to do with your financial affairs. You can change your mind at any time, by completing a new form, or telling someone that you have different wishes. You do not need a lawyer to complete the forms and they do not have to be notarized. You will need two competent adults to witness these forms and the witnesses cannot be members of your family.

Be sure to make plenty of copies of your advance directives and keep one with you at all times. Give a copy to your health care providers and keep one in safekeeping for good measure.

With the right amount of planning and the right forms, you too can be ready in the event of a medical crisis.

Prepare well my friends.

Contact DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at:

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