Working Our Way Through Covid-19

By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

Denver, Colo. – People are resilient.  People have many experiences to call on in times of crises.  People know how to cope and make do.

 In this time of COVID-19, we are all needing to use our skills and past experiences to meet the challenges of staying home, being dependent on someone to do our grocery shopping, maybe even being told that we can’t leave our room.  But given these choices to stay healthy and free of COVID-19 gives us hope to continue keeping ourselves healthy.

This is also the time to review our advance care planning documents.  Who will speak for you if you need help and have to make medical decisions?  Do you have a trusted family member who will manage your money and pay your bills?  The purpose of medical and financial powers of attorney allows you to give that authority and responsibility to a trusted family member or friend.

 Many of us complete these forms and then put them on the shelf. Many of us never have the conversation or complete the forms.

In this time of COVID-19, we should review our documents and share our wishes.  Specifically review your advance directives from the viewpoint of “if I get COVID-19, do I want to be placed on a ventilator?”  “Do I want to receive care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?” “Do I want palliative/hospice care, if I am having difficulty breathing and am not able to handle the planned treatment?” “Do I want to be treated in my own home by loved ones?”  “Can my loved ones take care of me?”

Currently the Colorado Department of Public Health has approved Crises Standards of Care.  Decisions are being made about scarce resources.  “Who gets taken to an emergency room by an ambulance is being prioritized based on a set of medical criteria?”  Similarly, the State is low on masks, gloves and protective gowns.  Hospitals are getting priority to get supplies; whereas, other programs such as nursing homes and assisted living residences, as well as hospices, are looking at ways to re-use supplies to conserve resources.  Community members are being asked to make masks. 

All residents of Colorado over age 18 are encouraged to review their advance care planning documents.  While some older adults may not be able to successfully fight COVID-19 and will die, more are surviving.  In this time of a state of emergency, it is important that you share with your loved ones your wishes in light of COVID-19, have current advance care planning documents, and have a plan in place to provide for your future, even if you never contract COVID-19.

If you just want to talk or need assistance with reviewing your current documents, finding current forms, or want help with completing forms, visit us at www.senioranswers.org or call 303-33-3482, 1-855-293-6911 or 1-855-880-4777 (Spanish).

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society.  Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982.  She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University.


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