Who's got your back?

Remember when your parents used to accompany you to your doctor's appointments? They'd schedule the appointment, drive you to the office and go into the examining room with you. Once you were home, they helped you follow the physician's advice. Your parents or guardian probably continued to do this until you were able to take charge of your own well-being, to fully communicate concerns and to follow through.

You've most likely never considered returning to a time when you would need someone to serve in a supportive role; however, as we age and health instructions become more complicated, it can be nice to have a supportive person on hand to help you during medical appointments and with complying with medical advice at home.

If you were asked to stop and think of at least four people that would be there for you in a time of need, could you do it? This person would cancel plans of their own to be by your side. They'd take notes during the medical appointment and help make sure you have what you needed after the appointment, such as medications, caregivers, etc. Most likely they'd check-in with you frequently, and especially in the days following an important appointment, as well.

If you can't name four people to be a part of your support system, it might be a good time to consider reestablishing personal connections that, for whatever reason, may have been lost over the years. Alternatively, familiarize yourself with the local agencies and businesses that help people needing health-oriented support. In our area organizations include the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging, Neighbor to Neighbor and At Home Senior Care. You may want to consider becoming part of a local senior activity group like the Nortshire Seniors or to schedule a tour at local retirement communities, where staff members are on hand to help in such situations. The strongest member of your support team may be a good fit to serve as your Power of Attorney. This would be someone that would speak on your behalf if you were no longer able to. They would know your values and beliefs and help align the care you receive to meet them. Talk with this person now to see if they'd be willing to serve as your Power of Attorney. Then call your lawyer, and get it in writing.

As adults we have the opportunity to choose who we'd want by our side. It's wise to take some time to really think about it. It could make a world of difference if a situation arises.

Kylee Ryan is the wellness coordinator at Equinox Village, a retirement community for active adults in Manchester Center, Vt.


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