Many seniors have chronic medical conditions that must be closely monitored and for which they take any number of prescription medications. Family caregivers tend to get a crash course in nursing and managing medical care once they begin helping an aging loved one, and the biggest lesson many learn initially is that organization is key. This is especially true when a senior develops a need for urgent medical care.
As medical director of MyCareClinic at The Carlisle Naples, a senior community offering both independent and assisted living in Southwest Florida, and an urgent care physician at ER QuickCare, Dr. Carlos Paisan is no stranger to the complex medical issues that seniors navigate on a daily basis.
In addition to openly communicating with your loved one’s primary care physician (PCP) and knowing where the nearest walk-in clinics and hospitals are located, Dr. Paisan recommends that caregivers and seniors create an emergency “packet” of medical information that can be given to paramedics, emergency room staff, and urgent care clinicians.
“At The Carlisle, there is an envelope on the back of each resident’s door containing an exact list of their medications and dosages, a copy of their power of attorney, contact information for their doctors, and information relevant to any chronic conditions,” Dr. Paisan explains. “Paramedics know this information is there, so they can pick up this packet with everything they need and go. I think this is a great practice to adopt in any home, especially if you’re responsible for the care of an elderly person.”
Such a packet is actually quite simple to put together, since it contains copies of information that caregivers should have on file already. Dr. Paisan’s suggestions for assembling your own emergency file are detailed below.
Build Your Own Emergency Medical Folder
Using the Emergency Medical Folder
Once you have gathered the records, copied them and assembled the folder, put it in an easily accessible place. If you share caregiving responsibilities with other family members, friends or professional in-home caregivers, inform them of this file’s existence and location. “Put that collection of information where everybody can find it,” Dr. Paisan urges.
This packet should be given to paramedics responding to 911 calls, and it should be brought along to walk-ins at the emergency room or urgent care clinic. In the latter cases, Dr. Paisan recommends giving the information to a staff member who is going to have direct patient contact with the senior instead of a receptionist whose only job is to check people in. “This could be a triage nurse, the actual nurse on duty once the patient is put into a room, or the physician who is in charge of their care.”
For seniors who attend day programs or spend ample time in their family members’ homes, having one of these folders available in each location isn’t a bad idea, either. Remember to update the contents of each folder as needed, though. Speak with their adult day care or senior center to see if they are able to keep the packet on file in case of emergencies. Dr. Paisan notes that, “When this detailed information is handy, it makes life easier and safer for everybody involved.”
The article "The Emergency Medical File Every Caregiver Should Create" by Ashley Huntsberry-Lett originally appeared on AgingCare.com.
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