ANSWERING THE CALL – Prepare for Senior Emergencies

It’s the midnight call that can strike terror in the hearts of so many who are caring for or serving older adults. Maybe it’s that Mom has suffered a stroke. Or Dad has taken the wrong dose of medicine and gets sick. Perhaps you are a senior care professional who encounters an older adult who doesn’t know what medications she is on. Or a senior who doesn’t remember if he has a living will or who is the POA.

Research shows that many family caregivers who live in fear of getting “the call” don’t have the information they need to help their loved ones. The Home Instead Senior Care® network recently surveyed future family caregivers – those who are expecting to be family caregivers within the next 10 years. Forty-seven percent say they are knowledgeable about their parents’ medical histories, and 49 percent are unable to name any of the medications their parents are taking each day. Furthermore, 36 percent of those future caregivers don’t know where their seniors’ financial information is located.

Your local Home Instead Senior Care office is often called to assist when families are in crisis. We’ve seen the turmoil that such a situation creates. We’ve also witnessed how much smoother it can go when families are prepared. An emergency with an older adult can happen at any time, and seniors are at particular risk because of the large numbers of medications they are taking.

Home Instead Senior Care’s “Answering the Call” program is designed to help family caregivers be better prepared for that emergency call that their senior loved one needs help. There are a variety of resources, including the Senior Emergency Kit, designed so that family caregivers have ready access to such information as a senior’s doctors, pharmacy and insurance company, medications and dosage details, as well as allergies and other important documents. Check out www.SeniorEmergencyKit.com for more information.

Older adults have a number of risk factors when it comes to their medications. The top risks are receiving prescriptions from more than one doctor, living alone and vision problems/poor eyesight. Another problem is that seniors sometimes don’t ask their doctors or pharmacists the right questions. Family caregivers can be important advocates for seniors at the doctor’s office or pharmacy. It helps to have a family caregiver go with the senior to ask questions and to make sure that any instructions from the doctor are reinforced and followed. Family caregivers should look to others for help if they are unable to be there to assist their loved ones, either at the doctor’s office or at home.

It’s critical to have your senior’s medical information easily and quickly accessible. Any time your mom or dad winds up in the emergency room, doctor’s office or hospital, there’s information those professionals need to know about your parents. Family caregivers should be ready to be a supporter of their aging loved ones, helping them when it’s time to provide those important details.