Critter Corner: Should I Update My Incapacity Planning Preferences Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Dear Ernie and Jannette,

I have seen friends and family fall ill with coronavirus. Luckily, they all survived. It got me to thinking that I need to review and update my advance directives at this time to make sure what I wanted before is still relevant if I should get coronavirus. I did my planning many years ago. Are there any things in particular I should take into consideration during this time?


Chan Jinmimind


Dear Chan,

Last week was National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a good to time to discuss and plan In advance, should you become incapacitated and no longer be able to make decisions for yourself.

In a statement, Kate DeBartolo, senior director of The Conversation Project, mentioned that they are seeing a lot of people making plans and updating their plans (if they already have them in place) now because they feel so out of control with an unpredictable virus. “We can’t control how this pandemic will play out, but we can control who will speak for us if we can’t speak for ourselves,” she says.

For those people who filled out an advance directive years ago, DeBartolo says, “it’s time to dust it off, review your wishes, clarify, make any updates, and share with your family.“

Should you make updates to your documents because of coronavirus?

The following are things to keep in mind if you should be seriously ill with coronavirus:

– Would you want the same person you have listed in your documents making your health care decisions once you can’t?

– Are your views about life support still the same? If you’ve documented your wishes to decline CPR or intubation because of a primary disease, such as cancer, consider whether you still want to forgo such treatment for the coronavirus. Similarly, if you’ve opted for full treatment — prolonging life by all measures — make sure you’ve considered the potentially devastating aftermath of mechanical ventilation for COVID-19. For this condition, people who need to be on a ventilator are often staying on it for two or three weeks and they may have very severe lung disease afterward. But then again, if you’re a relatively young person who needs a ventilator, this could be the difference between life and death. For example, if a healthy 60-year-old already completed an advance medical directive, they may have said they would not want a ventilator because they were assuming it would only be needed in the later stages of life if they were in their 80s or 90s. This same healthy 60 year old may now have a very different opinion about ventilator use if they were to contract the COVID-19 virus. We have updated our 4 Needs Advance Medical Directive® to address the unique issues that have arisen as a result of this COVID-19 pandemic, and that may result as a result of the future, perhaps a similar pandemics.

One new and potentially controversial question is whether you’d be willing to forgo a lifesaving ventilator for someone else in a crisis. Would you want to get in line for those crucial care resources? Or are you at this stage of life where are you would say, “I’ve had a good life and I’ll let other people get ahead of me in line?”

Don’t Have Planning in Place? Plan Now!

Of course, for anyone who does not have their planning in place, now is an ideal time to do so for many reasons, one of which is peace of mind. The Farr Law Firm is even offering discounts to get your planning done (20% off all levels of planning for everyone until May 31, and 50% off of incapacity planning documents for healthcare professionals and first responders until May 31).

It’s a Great Time to Be Prepared!

It’s a very scary time and our lives have changed drastically. This is a great time to be prepared, have conversations, and recognize the importance of planning ahead and/or ensuring the plans you have in place are still what you would want.

Hop this helps,

Ernie and Jannette

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.