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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / The October Surprise /  Editorial List

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The October Surprise

In presidential politics, an October Surprise refers to some planned or unforeseen event that occurs too close to election day for the candidate who would be negatively affected by such a surprise to un-do the damage to his or her vote count. Such a surprise occurred in the last election cycle when Osama Bin Laden released a videotape days before the election. For the sake of maintaining some level of sanity this year, I am praying that no such surprise arises within the next three weeks.

For caregivers, every new day without some type of surprise is counted as a blessed relief. In fact, I believe that one of our major caregiving challenges is to ensure that unpleasant surprises are kept to a minimum. When my dad took ill in 1990 at the age of fifty-eight, suffice it to say that we were about as unprepared as anyone could be. It took an entire month to find the necessary information that Dad could have found within minutes. These days, there is no excuse for any family to be as surprised as we were when Dad took ill so suddenly.

It is imperative that all of the adult members of your family have their healthcare documents in place in case of such an event happening to your family. And it is not only unfair but also irresponsible just to ask your senior loved ones to fill out their advanced directives since this affects all of us. In fact, there is no better way to ensure your parents participation than to place your own completed advance directives in front of them and say, “now, let’s get to work on yours.” In this way, you can almost guarantee there will be no personal October Surprise (or January Surprise, or February Surprise or July…)

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Gary Barg

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