In this astonishing year, where reality is even stranger than fiction, it’s hard to know what will happen next. Economic insecurity, natural disasters, and political upheaval all fuel a sense of anxiety—especially among many of us in the LGBTQ community. And of course, these worries come in conjunction with concerns about our own health and the fear of COVID-19.
In this climate of uncertainty, the best steps we can take are to control the things we can, to be ready for what could happen, even if it can be hard for us to think about. Here are five things you can do to help you prepare for the unexpected:
1. Prepare an advance directive. This legal document enables you to name someone to manage your health care if you become unable to do so for yourself. The person you choose, called your “health care agent,” can work with your doctors to help ensure that you receive the best care possible.
An advance directive also allows you to choose the type of treatment you would like to receive in an end-of-life situation, like a terminal illness. Many people simply want to be kept comfortable when the end is near. Others choose interventions, such as artificial nourishment and hydration. Whatever your wishes, preparing an advance directive will enable you make them clear to your health care agent and your doctors.
Your advance directive can also say who should make your final arrangements when the time comes. This sensitive and important responsibility would typically fall to your next of kin. Many of us in the LGBTQ community would rather name someone close to us—a dear friend or important family—to take on this role. Your advance directive is the perfect document for naming the best person for the job.