If your mom or dad experienced a medical emergency, would they know how to get help? Would you know where to find their insurance cards and medication information?
We don’t often think about the things we might need at the hospital when our loved ones are in good health. But that’s precisely the time when we’re in the best position to think through various scenarios and take the time needed to find documents and personal information.
Even if your mom or dad is in excellent health and doesn’t show any signs of illness, creating a medical emergency plan is one of the most important things you can do to ensure their safety. Preparing for an emergency now will save precious moments and relieve pressure during an adrenaline-charged, stressful situation.
Information To Keep On Hand For a Medical Emergency
When you’re heading out the door to the emergency room, you don’t have time to waste searching for medical information, medications, or insurance documents. Collect this information and other essential items ahead of time and keep them in a safe, accessible place. Include these items in your preparation:
- Insurance cards and information about Ohio health plans and prescription plans
- Contact information for the primary physician and any specialists that may be involved in treatment
- Ohio medical transportation options and hospitals (with addresses and phone numbers)
- Names and contact information for your loved one’s attorney and health care proxy
- Names and contact information for other people who should know about your family member’s illness, such as a church or social group, pet caretaker, the post office to hold mail, or your mom or dad’s employer if they still work
- A living will that stipulates end of life wishes such as treatment preferences and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order if desired
- A power of attorney document that appoints someone to carry out end of life wishes
- Current medications and the doses for each one
- Personal information such as social security number and birth certificate
- Brief medical history including past illnesses, surgeries, current conditions (such as Alzheimer’s or dementia), heart disease, history of falls, osteoporosis, and allergies
- Information about special dietary requirements, physical limitations or conditions, and language needs
- Medical devices, both internal (such as a pacemaker or catheter) and external (such as hearing aids, contacts, or dentures)
- Mobility limitations and assistance devices (such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair)
It’s important to talk to your mom or dad ahead of time about their end of life wishes and treatment preferences. Because these can be sensitive subjects, plan to have these conversations during a non-stressful time so decisions can be made carefully and thoughtfully.
Senior Safety Tips for Emergency Preparedness
Your individual circumstances will determine the precise details to be considered for an emergency situation, but here are a few additional things to keep in mind as you plan:
- Time of Year—During Ohio’s frosty winters, plan to bring plenty of warm clothing layers and extra blankets to keep your loved one warm. Make sure porches, steps, and sidewalks are kept clear of snow and ice to reduce the risk of falls. During the summer, make sure the air conditioning is in good working order to reduce the risk of overheating.
- Health Conditions—If your family member has health conditions such as incontinence, diabetes, hearing loss, or vision loss, be sure to bring any supplies they may need. These may include adult briefs, blood sugar tests, insulin, glasses, or other daily essentials.
- Gender—Medical emergencies may present differently in men as compared with women, so be aware of the differences and what you should look for. For example, the incidence of stroke is higher in men up to age 75 and higher in women over age 85.
How to Learn More
Putting an emergency plan in place is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure senior safety and make sure your mom or dad’s wishes are followed. Here are some additional resources you may wish to consider as you work through the details:
Questions to Ask Your Loved One’s Doctor During a Senior Medical Emergency
Planning Post-Hospital Care for Seniors: 5 Steps to Peace of Mind
Senior Emergency Preparedness (American Red Cross)
Preparing for a Trip to the Emergency Room (AARP)
Senior Living In Ohio (Ohio.gov)
No matter how prepared you are, it’s never easy to go through a medical emergency with your aging parent or family member. Still, you can reduce stress and ensure that your loved one’s wishes are followed by planning ahead of time and knowing exactly where to find the information you need when you face an emergency situation.