If you have ever been the family member sent with a loved one to the hospital, you know that you will be looked to as ‘the source’ of all information! You will be asked about things that you would never have considered discussing with your loved one. The intimate things that they will expect you to know (when was the last bowel movement??? Really???) will boggle your mind. As if you don’t have enough to worry about as it is!
When you are in the middle of an emergency is not the time to have to gather critical information. Preparation is the key. Help your parents be as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency so that they will go to the hospital armed with the information they will need.
In addition to having the insurance/Medicare cards available, here are some things to consider.
To begin with, if you parent has a medical condition that requires special attention/knowledge prior to treatment, consider getting a medic alert bracelet (http://www.medicalert.org is one such provider that has several options available). If worn at all times, this bracelet allows emergency responders to have potentially critical information about the patient prior to initiating treatment.
The following are good reasons to wear a medical ID bracelet:
- Food, Drug or Insect allergies
- Cardiac problems (angina,arrhythmias,atrial fibrillation,pacemakers)
- Pulmonary Conditions(Asthma/COPD)
- Kidney Failure
- Diabetes, blood disorders
- Alzheimer’s/Memory Impairment
- Blood thinners/ Anticoagulants (Coumadin/Warfarin)
- Emphysema/Breathing disorders
- Rare diseases
- Epilepsy/Seizure disorder
- Hearing, sight or mentally impaired
- Surgery, transplant and cancer patients
- Clinical trial participants
- Stroke risk
- Sickle Cell Anemia
Another step of preparation will save you from digging through the cabinets hunting for pill bottles. At a time when you can sit and do so under calm circumstances, compile a list of all current medications including doses and how and when they are taken. Include any over the counter medications and supplements as well. Some people take this list, along with other basic medical information, and keep it in or on the refrigerator. Emergency medical personnel know about this method of communicating information and will generally take a look for it. You can print a free form and get more information at:
If Mom and Dad have joined the cell phone toting generation, another piece of information that could prove helpful is to pre-program their cell phones with ICE numbers (In Case of Emergency). This is another place that emergency personnel will look to gather as much information as possible on somebody that is unable to provide information themselves.
These are some of the best ways to communicate medical information in an emergency situation. Ideally, you will also know whether your parents have put into place an advance directive or living will. If you have been designated as Healthcare and/or Financial Power of Attorney, you should also keep a copy of these documents. You will need to provide this documentation to the hospital in order to make the decisions that you have been authorized, at your parent’s wishes, to make.
The hospital emergency is an unsettling event for everyone. It can be traumatic and upsetting for all involved and can be especially difficult on the elderly. Being prepared will smooth the way to the best outcomes for your loved one and provide you with a sense of control.
On the journey with you…….Kathy