If you have a medical emergency and become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself, you will want to make sure that someone else can speak for you. Advance directives are the legal documents that identify the person or persons you have chosen to speak for you should you become incapacitated.

Since seniors often have to choose among available treatment options, the Power of Attorney for Health Care or PAHC serves as a very important advance directive.  This, in conjunction with the following three tools, may enhance the probability that your chosen PAHC agent will be able to effectively speak for you:

1.  File of Life KitThe File of Life Kit or FOL allows you to make important information readily available should you experience a medical emergency.

In filling out the FOL form you not only give personal information, but also provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your PAHC agent(s), family members and friends. By completing the FOL form’s checklist, you are making sure that future emergency responders will have access to necessary information on your medical condition, current medications, and recognized allergic reactions.

The FOL plastic holder has a magnet on the back that allows you to attach it to your refrigerator door.

To order a free FOL Kit contact the California Department of Insurance online at insurance.ca.gov or by phone at 800-927-4357

2.  Cell Phone I-C-E:  It is common for paramedics, firefighters, and police officers to try to determine whom to contact when they respond to an incapacitated person in need of emergency medical care. If the person needing treatment has a cell phone available, the emergency team will immediately inspect it to determine just who they should call.

A very easy way to assist an emergency team is to add a telephone listing for I-C-E, which stands for In Case of Emergency, to your cell phone contact list.  If you place a star or * before the ICE, it will be the first number to appear. You can even choose to list several emergency contacts by entering them in your cell phone contact list in the order on your PAHC as ICE1, ICE2, etc.

3.  H.E.L.P.’s Wallet Card: Emergency responders will surely feel relieved when, in searching through your wallet to determine who they should contact, they find a completed H.E.L.P. wallet card which states:  Notice to Medical Personnel. It provides the emergency team with formal notice that you have prepared a power of attorney for health care, and includes three spaces for you to fill in the names and telephone numbers of your designated agents.

To obtain H.E.L.P.’s wallet card, printed on blue cardstock paper, call H.E.L.P. at 310-533-1996. After completing and cutting out the card, be sure to keep it in your wallet with your driver’s license or other identification.  And – don’t forget to provide your agents, other family members and care providers with copies of your current, properly signed and witnessed Power of Attorney for Health Care.