When Your Aging Parent is Hospitalized – Part 1
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on this topic.
Click here for Part 2. Click here for Part 3.
Last week a friend’s Mom, Golden Oldie age 80+, was taken to the emergency room unexpectedly and was then admitted to the hospital for a few days. Luckily, it was nothing serious and she will be going home soon.
An unexpected emergency like this can be much less stressful for you as a family caregiver if you prepare a few things in advance. Emergency Kits traditionally include bandaids, ointment, gauze pads, scissors, etc. The Aging Parents Emergency Kit I created has different contents, but is something I could grab and be out the door with in no time flat. Kind of like the suitcase I packed when I was expecting my first baby!
Prepare a folder, envelope or accordion file with the copies of the vital information the hospital will need upon your parent’s arrival in the ER, including but not limited to:
- Advance Health Care Directive. This legal document appoints a person to make health care decisions for the patient as well as instructions for future health care.
- Power of Attorney for Health Care. Depending on your state of residence, this may be a separate legal document or it may be incorporated into the Advance Health Care Directive (above).
- Durable Power of Attorney. This legal document may or may not be requested, but it deals with the patient appointing an Attorney-in-Fact regarding financial matters in general. Again, each state could have different documents, so please check with your attorney in advance as to what your state requires. The hospital may not need all of these, but it is better to have them handy then to have to go home, find them, copy them and then bring them back.
- List of Medicines, Vitamins and/or Supplements. The exact name and dosage of each as well as when they were last taken by your parent.
- Copy of Medicare Card, Secondary Insurance Card and any Pharmacy Plan. It is good to have the pharmacy phone number handy for when your parent goes home, too, so the hospital can order in advance any prescriptions for medication that may need to be continued at home.
- Medical History. Including major illnesses, surgeries, current medications being taken and any recent medical conditions. Writing this down in advance is very helpful and then easy to add to and keep current. Create the record with your parent so that you can get the dates as accurately as possible.
- Current doctors’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
I also recommend you include some comfort items for yourself. Waiting in Emergency Rooms can be much longer than expected. I’ve found it helpful to have on hand:
- Snacks and/or Beverages. You may not be able to get to the hospital cafeteria, or the cafeteria could be closed. (Do not give any food or beverages to your parent unless the hospital staff gives their OK.)
- Sweater or jacket. Hospitals and ER’s are generally cold. You may also want to bring a warm jacket or sweater for your parent. Seniors in general feel colder than the average person, so if you’re feeling cold, they probably are as well.
- Something to do while waiting. This is both for you and your parent. For example, a newspaper, magazines, books, or crossword puzzles you can do together. The patient might not feel good enough to do anything, but it is nice to have a few things handy just in case.
- Cell phone. So you can call relatives and/or friends to keep them updated. Or you may need to call a doctor’s office to let them know your parent is in the ER.
Have you had to take your aging parent/Golden Oldie to the ER? Is there anything else you can suggest I add to my Aging Parents Emergency Kit? I’m all ears!