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When the Wind Blows


Ten years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the United States, first in South Florida and then in the Gulf Coast. Here in Fort Lauderdale, we felt that we were hit pretty bad (losing power for over a week and even lives) until we saw how the hurricane and levee break affected our neighbors to the north. Like preparing for family caregiving, preparing for hurricane season does not always follow a specified route.

Growing up in South Florida, my dad always prepared for hurricanes whenever they seemed to be coming our way. In those days, tracking the paths of hurricanes was not as sophisticated as it is today. There were many times that we took boards off windows we had covered in response to hurricane threats which never materialized. Yet, when they did, we were always ready. A lesson that, years later, we needed to learn as family caregivers. 

Like with a hurricane, it pays to be prepared. If you are not a caregiver now, you never know when you will get that phone call in the middle of the night informing you of a loved oneís illness.  When my dad took ill, I remember sitting on the floor of my parentsí living room, searching through boxes of papers for the ones I needed. Two weeks earlier, Dad was a healthy, 59-year-old retiree, who had always handled our familyís finances with no thought that we would soon be at a loss for what to do upon his sudden illness.

Like with a hurricane, you never know where the next healthcare challenge will strike. Do you have all of the Advanced Directives in place for your loved one? Thatís great; now what about you? Do you have your own Advanced Directives in place? Who will be your caregiver, if you should need one? Have all adults in your family discussed their end of life wishes with one another?

Like with hurricanes, we canít plan for everything. Even the best of plans do not allow us to escape all pain, and we can never know upon whom disaster will fall next. But, having a plan in place is sure a lot better than scrambling when healthcare disaster strikes.

With an appreciative nod to the Boy Scouts, ďBe PreparedĒ is not such a bad motto for caregivers, either.

Gary Barg

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