A couple of weeks ago my mother came to our home for a visit and some time away from the daily routines. She enjoys coming across the state line (about a 3 hour drive from her house to ours) and having time to relax. It allows her to leave behind the worries of the twice daily visits that she has been providing to my father though she has been encouraged to cut the visitations back so as not to wear herself down.
My sister came as well for the first two nights and we had time to discuss with Mom her vacillating thoughts about whether she should stay in her house or downsize to something smaller, possibly in a retirement community setting where my father could also move.
We had come up with a plan of sorts to help Mom begin to manage the things in the home that were weighing on her and I believe were at the heart of her desire to ‘run away’ at some level. She seems to feel the weight of all the ‘stuff’ in the house and to be sure, there is a lot! But stuff can be sorted and dispersed. So we made a plan to do that.
Sunday arrived and my sister left to return home. My husband and I set off to church with Mom.
During the service my mother passed out not once, but two times! The second time was accompanied by some other symptoms prompting a 911 call.
The point of this post is not to give you a detailed account of her ailments and her hospital stay. What I really wanted to share with you was how well prepared my mother was with information that we would need at the hospital!
I have written in a previous post about how to prepare for the hospital visit (In Case of Emergency ). But Mom had really taken it a step farther.
She carries a small spiral notebook in her purse that has all kinds of great information in it! In her shaky handwriting were the following types of information:
1. For the past several years she has made note about each of her doctor’s visits including date of visit, the doctor’s name, the specialty, the reason for visit and any significant outcomes or instructions.
2. She had a list of all her current medications with dosages and a list of her allergies.
3. She had documented all of her treatments and surgical procedures (mostly orthopedic) with dates and type of procedure (often with a notation of the response to the treatment).
4. She had the addresses, phone numbers and fax numbers of all of the doctors that she has seen in recent years (with their specialties noted).
5. She had her pharmacy name and number.
In her wallet she had all of the pertinent cards: Medicare card, supplemental insurance card, pharmacy benefit card and of course her driver’s license.
I cannot begin to tell you how easy this made the whole out-of-town hospital visit! Not only was I able to provide information to the physicians about her past medical history, I was able to provide the hospital contact information for her primary care physician so that all of the hospital records could be sent directly to him. If the circumstances had been more dire, it also would have been a way for them to contact her other healthcare providers for information that they may have needed.
Her little blue notebook was a treasure trove of information. She was able to keep it with her at the bedside in case she needed any of that information after we had left for the day. It helped her to feel in control rather than struggling to remember the details, names and dates. And to be sure she now has some new information to add!
I think that I will have to adopt her organizational methods. I’m lucky that I can remember the birth dates of my children! I know I don’t remember the dates of medical events in my past.
Perhaps you can get one started for your parent if they are still living in the community. I can speak from experience when I say that in an emergency, it will be a welcomed resource!
On the journey with you…….Kathy