By Patty Thorsen

Patty Thorsen is a part of the Citizens League’s Backup Plan for Solo Seniors task force, an 18-month study on the challenges many individuals face as they age alone. As the project move forward, Patty will be updating followers of the project with a periodic blog post. Patty is a member of the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Council.

One of the areas the Backup Plan for Solos is examining is what information resources exist currently. Each task force member approaches this question from two different perspectives, which influence the information they find and value. First, are they senior solos themselves? Second, do they serve senior solos in their profession? The third category is what academic background do they bring to our discussions. These three perspectives apply to senior solos who read the final product of this Citizens League task force, and consider healthcare decision-making resources for those in later and end-of-life.

That said, the perspective that influences my deliberations the most is my academic background. I have degrees in library and information science. Other task force members come to our work with backgrounds in the legal field, the social work field, the ministry. It is easy to get so caught up in the discussion of topics, that we speak in shorthand, which may be deceptively inaccurate or not universally understood. There are several questions — a checklist, which may be used to minimize the danger of such inaccuracies and misunderstandings. These questions are essential to task force members. I believe it is equally important for the senior solos, who can do so, to establish this as their starting point to making healthcare decisions later and at end-of-life. This checklist would involve the following questions:

  1. What are the abbreviations, and their accompanying definitions, which are being used in the variety of healthcare issues being discussed?
  2. What are the acronyms and their accompanying definitions, which I am encountering in my healthcare decision-making process?

Senior solos have two additional questions that may find helpful to answer:

  1. Are my healthcare needs short-term?
  2. Are my healthcare needs long-term?

The answers to these questions may help in identifying the resources to consult.  The next blog post will explore the various categories of information resources that exist.

Would you like to contribute to this project? Email [email protected] to learn more.

This project is made possible by the generous support from The Bush Foundation.