Caring for your special needs child or adult includes special considerations and needed preparation in the event of an emergency. You should be proactive to provide the most complete support possible. If you have not already addressed the items below, consider doing so as soon as possible. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask. A strong support system and/or experienced attorney should be able to help you with the execution of any of the items listed.
Create a Support Network
When creating an emergency plan, it is important to create a support network to help. This is true of any situation but it is especially critical when addressing the needs of your child or adult dependent. You simply can’t do it all yourself. If you are unexpectedly unavailable, you need a network of people that you trust to help care for your dependent. Family and friends can be invaluable resources and important pillars of any emergency plan.
Know Your Resources
Know the local resources that are available. You may contact local police or fire stations and ask if they have any recommendations or services accessible to you in the event of an emergency. You should also have a list and map of local shelters that can assist you with basic resources and provisions. In addition, if caring for your special needs child requires medical care, you should have a list of all neighboring hospitals and facilities that can accommodate your needs.
Put Your Plans in Writing
You should put your emergency plans in writing. While it is impossible to plan for every possible emergency, you should have a basic contingency plan in place and written down. A written plan is easy to reference and can give all family members a starting point in the event of an unexpected catastrophe. Putting the plan in writing can also provide important clarification for guests and visitors.
Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
Pack emergency supply kits. You should be prepared in event of a natural disaster or unexpected emergency such as a long term power outage. Special needs children and adults often have very specific medical care needs. You should have backup power supplies if your child has medical equipment as well as backup medical supplies and medications. If your child has special food needs, you should plan accordingly as well. Any item needed while caring for your special needs child should be duplicated and easily accessible in the event of an emergency.
Practice the Plan
Practice your plan. Your family should be aware of your emergency plans and practice the plan regularly. Practicing can help everyone feel comfortable with what they are supposed to do in terms of caring for your special needs child as well as help identify any other items that need to be addressed. Once you have practiced a plan you may realize you need additional equipment such as batteries for flashlights or equipment for a speedy evacuation. Try to keep your plan simple and effective so that it is easy for everyone to do their part.
Have a Care Plan
Prepare for an unexpected injury or incapacitation. You need to have a care plan in place in case you are in a car accident or otherwise incapacitated. You will need a legally binding and properly executed Health Care Power of Attorney that states who can make medical decisions for your child while you are incapacitated. In addition to appointing someone to care for your dependent, you must also address his oar her financial needs. A Financial Power of Attorney can appoint a trusted friend or family member to manage funds on behalf of your dependent and pay for his or her care, clothing and other basic needs.
Seek Legal Guidance
Seek qualified legal guidance. It is critical that you have experienced guidance when creating an emergency plan for your special needs child or adult. A skilled attorney can explain all the things you need to know about guardianship as well as help you implement all required legal documents. Preemptive planning now can help your dependent have the best support possible in the future.
Make Estate Plans
You should have long-term estate planning in place that specifically addresses the needs of your child or dependent adult if you were to pass away. You need to make plans that address the possibility of your temporary incapacitation, but you also need to plan for your death. Proper estate planning may include a special needs trust or revocable living trust to provide for your dependent financially. A will or trust may be used to establish guardianship as well as a conservator to oversee the finances and assist your dependent with his or her money management. Your special needs dependent will be dealing with a tremendous loss at the time of your death and will need emotional and spiritual support from his or her guardian and support system. It is important that you have the right people in place to provide this support and proper guidance.
A little bit of proactive planning can make all the difference in caring for your special needs child or adult. It can take time to put together an effective emergency plan and designate the best people to assist in the event of your incapacitation or death. If you do not already have a plan in place, don’t delay. You have a resource in me; I am available to assist you in best providing for those you love.