What happens when your loved one first experiences a health emergency? We often think of our parents as somewhat invincible if they are in decent health, but a health crisis is probably on the horizon.
Prevention is the Best First Treatment
Now is the time to talk to your parents about things like chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s also a good time to meet their primary care physician and familiarize yourself with their treatment plan.
Make an Emergency Plan
What do you do? Where is the closest emergency room? Is there anyone who can accompany your loved one the hospital if you’re not available?
Having a plan will make a crisis just a little less stressful. Things you must have that are extremely helpful in the ER:
- Medicare and Insurance ID card,
- Summary of past medical history and surgeries,
- Schedule of current medications, dosages, frequency, and condition they treat,
- List of allergies to food and/or medications,
- Power of attorney,
- Any Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or documented written medical preferences.
Expect to be there for a few hours as they determine whether something like chest pain is truly a heart attack or something else. So you should plan on bringing along some of the following:
- Key family and friend contacts that need to be consulted or updated;
- Charger for your phone;
- Sweater or something to keep you warm, hospitals are surprisingly cold;
- A good book, several magazines, or a portable hobby (knitting) to keep you occupied while you wait; and
- Something to snack on in case you can’t make it to the cafeteria or the food is bad.
Some of the things you should be prepared to do:
- Contact their primary care physician (PCP) or Specialist (cardiologist, surgeon, etc.) and notify them that you are on the way to the emergency room (ER). This will allow their regular physicians to make follow-up calls or stop by on rounds to get a status update.
- Be patient!! Communicate and use your trusted health care providers. Speaking with your PCP or Specialist may help expedite triage and treatment in the ER. Most large ERs will have “fast tracks” for patients suspected of having a heart attack or stroke as time is of the essence with these conditions.