2.2. Emergencies and Exceptional Circumstances

“Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.”

Jackie Chan, Hongkong-Chinese Actor and Martial Artist

Emergencies and exceptional circumstances are events or problems which you did not expect and which you feel will have a significant impact on your life. But can we plan for the unpredictable? And should we spend our time worrying about perhaps unpleasant things? Well, maybe about some and see what we can do about our resilience that helps us with better problem-solving and maintaining motivation.

Let´s have a look at some important fields and related questions:


  • Do you have access to medical care? What are important emergency phone numbers?
  • Have you drawn up a patient’s decree (also called living will or advanced decisions) that regulates how you would like to be taken care of in case of health impairments? Talk to your doctor about it and decide about important things like reanimation, artificial nutrition, artificial respiration, etc. Another point: Is the living will deposited in such a way that it can be found in an emergency?
  • Who should decide for you in an emergency? Who do you trust 100% on this point? Remember that not only you are getting older, but also that person.
  • Who will take care of your house/pet/spouse if you are in the hospital?
  • How will you deal with long-term or permanent health restrictions?
  • Are there any long-term care arrangements? How and by whom do I want to be cared for? What care am I able to give to others?


  • Did you prepare a will?
  • Who will take care of your children or dependents that you have taken care of?
  • Who takes care about funeral arrangements costs? In some countries there are special insurances covering the costs.
  • How can you cope with a changed life situation and who can help you?


  • Can insurances cover costs?
  • What about your savings?
  • Do you need to make debts?


  • Do you live in an area where earthquakes or flooding are likely? Is the political situation in your place of residence stable?
  • Do you have to prepare for loss of housing, material possessions, or livelihood?
  • Do you have a certain amount of water, food and first aid materials available?
  • Do you have necessary insurances?
  • Are your finances in order and your assets and valuables in good hands?


This can be positive and negative, from the birth of a grandchild to divorce, separation or family disputes.

  • How will I deal with the new life situation, how will my life change?
  • Will there be financial burdens for me, etc.

This is a difficult subject with difficult decisions, but you can make good preparations and they are fundamentally important even in younger years. Some themes are complex and might feel unimportant during times when life is all going smoothly. But when trouble hits, you will be better set-up to get through the difficulty and more likely to overcome it. Preparation will help you also mentally and emotionally. It is important to make a realistic risk assessment and not to be afraid of unpleasant topics.

Another important factor besides some practical preparation is working on your resilience, your capacity to bounce back that you can withstand the tough stuff life throws at you, and get back up on your feet in the best possible way.

The American Psychological Association summarises


10 ways to build resilience

  1. Make connections: Have good relations with family, friends and Accept help.
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these Concentrate on the future.
  3. Accept that change is a part of living. You cannot influence everything, so concentrate on things you can
  4. Move toward your Define realistic goals and small steps how to achieve them.
  5. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build
  8. Keep things in Consider a broader context and long-term perspective.
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. Try visualizing what you want rather than worrying about what you
  10. Take care of Pay attention to your own needs and feelings.

If you want to further train your resilience, have a look at the Erasmus+ project Breakthrough for Resilience which gives different resources for training.

References & further reading
  1. The American Psychological Association, The Road to Resilience, https://www.uis.edu/counselingcenter/wp-content/uploads/sites/87/2013/04/the_road_to_resilience.pdf.
  2.  “The Resilience Project.” Breakthrough for Resilience: People, Places, and Communities, http://resilienceproject.eu/.