Like many other states, Illinois has slowly begun easing restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19. But as the daily case numbers show, there’s still plenty of reason to be concerned about transmission.
Whether you’re headed to the office, to school, or even to the grocery store, venturing out can feel a little like playing Russian roulette with your health. To make sure you and your family are protected, here’s what to have on your coronavirus checklist.
1. Powers of attorney
It’s tough to lobby for much of anything once you’re in the hospital, so you need to be prepared in case you’re knocked out of commission. One way to do that is with a medical power of attorney (POA), a document that acts as a kind of permission slip to let someone make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Everyone in your family over the age of 18 should have a medical POA. While you’re at it, be sure to also get a financial POA – a document that allows someone to make financial decisions for you if you’re not able to do so yourself. The good news is that, thanks to the miracle of digital technology, you can now sign everything remotely by video. So even if you’re struck down with this viral crud, you can still make sure that everything’s in order.
2. HIPAA consent
A HIPAA consent form works hand-in-hand with a medical POA. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a law that protects the sharing of an individual’s medical information.
Providing the names of family members and loved ones on this form lets you make sure they’re able to get updates on your health and have access to your medical records if they need it. That way, they’ll have the information they need to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to. Generation Law can easily prepare both of these documents for you and have you sign them remotely to make things simple and safe.
3. Access to digital assets
If you bank or handle your monthly expenses online, make sure your family and the person named in your financial POA can access your online accounts. Most digital assets are password-protected, so without the password, bills may go unpaid and services like gas and electric can be suspended. Make a list of the username and password for each of your online accounts, including bank and investment accounts, utilities and cable service, credit cards and lending companies. Be sure to include your email and social media accounts, too (in case you want those beach photos floating around the internet for eternity).
4. Gear to get
If you need to be hospitalized, you’ll want to be able to stay connected to loved ones, especially since most hospitals have a strict no-visitors-allowed policy for COVID-19 patients. To stay in touch with family and friends (and the outside world in general), be sure you have an external battery to charge your smart phone and/or laptop or tablet computer. If you have an older device, consider upgrading to a newer version that can stay charged for longer periods of time.
5. Protect yourself and others
With no current vaccine for COVID-19, the best way to protect yourself and others from getting or spreading the virus is by taking a few simple precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth when you’re out and about.
- Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth — hands touch lots of surfaces and can transfer the virus through them.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
6. Stay in touch with older relatives
Physical distancing is designed to protect everyone from COVID-19, but it’s especially important for older adults, who are more vulnerable to illness and infection. That’s why most senior care facilities aren’t allowing in-person visits during the pandemic, a restriction that’s created a sense of isolation and loneliness for many residents. But while you may not be able to sit down with or give a hug to your older loved ones, you can still support them by staying in touch. Reach out with phone calls and virtual visits as often as possible, and send notes and care packages to let them know you’re there for them, even when you need to be apart.
7. Get your planning act together
It’s important that you have all your estate planning documents together and up to date and that you let your loved ones know where to find them in case you become ill. In addition to powers of attorney and a HIPAA consent, other documents to check off your list include wills and trusts.
Of course, the hope is that you’ll remain healthy and these documents will stay filed away in a drawer for many years to come. But by preparing them now, you and your family can breathe a little easier – even during the summer of COVID.