Eldercare is punctuated by emergencies. A broken hip, a stroke, a heart event, a major fall, a blackout – all followed by an immediate need for care and, usually, a change in plans for the future.
You can’t plan for an emergency but you can be prepared for one.
Preparation calls for being organized:
- Have documents in order (power of attorney forms, advance directives).
- Know where your elder’s important paperwork is kept.
- Put a copy of their Medicare card, their supplemental insurance card and their Rx insurance card in your files.
- Keep a list of current medications to give care providers.
- Make a point of knowing whom your elder’s primary doctor is and how to reach him/her. Keep a list of specialists and their contact information as well.
- Give a copy of your power of attorney to all care providers now so, if needed, you can make decisions and access information on behalf of your elders.
- Put a copy of advance directives, insurance information, primary physician and preferred hospital in a sealed ziplock bag and tape to outside of the fridge at your elder’s residence. EMTs know to look there for paperwork.
- Have an extra key made to your elder’s house in case you need to get inside in a hurry or if they are not there. While you’re at it, make an extra key for a locked mailbox – you may need to check their mail if they become ill or are not able to access it on their own.
- Assemble a call list of folks who would want to know or need to know if your elder has an emergency event.
- Keep a list of your elder’s neighbors and their contact info handy. These folks can be great allies when your elder needs help, especially if you live in a different town.
When you get THE CALL that something has happened, instead of just standing there saying “@*^$!!”, you can have tools at hand to deal with the situation in an organized and effective way.
You can turn a lot of “!!!” into the more calm “… “
That means more time for the actual care and less time for pulling out your hair.