IT PAYS TO KNOW: New Year’s Resolutions

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By JUDD MATSUNAGA

Many Rafu Shimpo readers will head into 2013 with a New Year’s resolution. Will you? Perhaps to exercise more, donate to the poor, take a trip, or to become more spiritual. Unfortunately, a 2007 study showed that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail to follow through (Richard Wiseman, University of Bristol).

Instead of spending another year not hitting your goals, try focusing on a resolution that you can definitely accomplish. If you haven’t decided which New Year’s resolution you want for 2013, I have a really good resolution that will not only give you peace of mind, but you’ll be able to definitely accomplish.

Let’s face it — none of us are getting any younger. How many funerals did you attend last year? Last month?? Last week??? Of all legal documents, only advance directives may be needed quickly for life-and- death decisions. But when needed in hospitals, advance directives are not available in 74% of cases.

So here’s the resolution — get a DocuBank card. DocuBank is the oldest and largest electronic storage of health-care directives in the nation. That means that all of your important health-care documents and medical wishes are electronically scanned and stored in case of an emergency.

So if you’re at the California Hotel and Casino and hit the $100,000 jackpot and collapse, the paramedics will find a DocuBank “alert sticker” on your driver’s license. These alert stickers tell hospital and emergency staff that they can obtain your healthcare directives using your DocuBank wallet card.

Via the Internet, hospital staff can view and print your health-care documents immediately. DocuBank also lists important medical conditions, medication list and allergy information so that it is immediately available within minutes of hospitalization — anytime, day or night, anywhere in the world.

DocuBank also provides the hospital with the names and telephone numbers of three emergency contacts, along with the name and contact information of your primary physician. That way, if anything should happen to you, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be notified.

DocuBank also offers a family notification service. Members can send a personalized email to friends and family members letting them know that they have joined the DocuBank service and that their health-care wishes are available 24/7/365 in an emergency.

Private password protection means members have an added level of protection for online DocuBank information. While hospitals can print your directives using your member number and PIN, they cannot make changes to your personal contact information.

You say, “Judd, I feel fine. Why is this important?” Well, according to a recent study by the California HealthCare Foundation, when faced with end-of-life decisions, more than half say they have not talked with a loved one about the kind of care they want at the end of life.

The survey “Final Chapter: Californians’ Attitudes and Experiences with Death and Dying” finds nearly 8 in 10 Californians say if seriously ill, they would want to speak with their doctor about end-of-life care, but fewer than 1 in 10 report having had a conversation, including just 13% of those age 65 or older.

Of those surveyed, 72% said their home is their preferred place of death. But according to death records from the California Department of Public Health, only 32% passed away in their homes. Why the huge disparity?

The study found that while 82% say that it is important to put their end-of-life wishes in writing, less than 25% have actually done so. Without any instructions in writing, those who would prefer to die a natural death at home often remain in the hospital being poked, prodded, and subjected to painful treatments.

“With end-of-life treatment, there is a clear gap between wishes and actions,” said Mark D. Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation. “People consistently stress they want to die comfortably and without pain. If so, the single most important thing they can do is to talk to their loved ones and physicians, and put their wishes in writing, something most Californians aren’t doing.”

In conclusion, you have heard the old adage “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Winston Churchill said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”

A simple, yet important resolution to make this year is to get a DocuBank Emergency Card. You’ll feel better knowing that you have one in your wallet.

Judd Matsunaga, Esq., is the founding partner of the Law Offices of Matsunaga & Associates, specializing in Estate/Medi-Cal Planning, Probate, Personal Injury and Real Estate Law. With offices in Torrance, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Pasadena Fountain Valley, he can be reached at (800) 411-0546. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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