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How To Prepare For A Possible Medical Emergency

Question: What tips do you have in preparing for a medical emergency? I am starting to help my parents and want to be prepared.

Answer: Thank you for all you are doing on behalf of your parents. I am sure they are relieved to have your support and help.

My answers are very personal, as this is what I have done to prepare for emergencies on behalf of my mother. In my case, I wanted to be prepared for all of the questions that doctors ask during appointments and potentially for emergencies. I created a notebook containing all of my mother’s medical information. By having this information readily available, you’re less likely to forget important facts.

The notebook has copies of her Power of Attorney (POA), her Health Care Proxy (HCP) and copies of all of her health insurance and prescription coverage cards. I have a page for her medical history, including having chickenpox as a child all the way through her hip surgery in 2021. Compiling her health history took a little time, using her memory and also her doctor’s patient portal.

Next, a list of medications she takes every day, the name, the dose and the frequency she takes them. Be sure to include over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like vitamins and supplements. Then the list of medications taken occasionally.

The notebook includes the physicians currently seen and in the past. Their name, address and phone number. This is useful information to have on hard in an emergency.

I recommend a brief family medical history as they often ask these types of questions. How did your parent’s parents die or are they still living? What were their major medical problems? What about their siblings, are they alive? What are/were the siblings’ major medical issues? This can sometimes be helpful in trying to determine what is happening to your parents.

My mother’s notebook; includes copies of her most recent blood work and when it was done. This is also useful as a comparison to what is happening over time.

Often when seeing your doctor, you receive a written report of the visit. I include the most recent physician’s report in the notebook. I also have a file back at home where I keep the older visitation reports. Keeping this information can be useful when tracing back to when something happened, or when something started to happen. These documents include current weight, blood pressure and other useful comparison information.

Last but not least in this notebook, I have a page with the family contact information. My mother’s name, address and phone number. Myself and my brother’s contact information. This is useful as sometimes during an emergency it is hard to pull up all that information in my mind when I am upset and anxious about what is happening around me.

Gathering up this information sounds like a lot of work. In the beginning it did take a little bit of time, but it has been so useful to our family. I have added to it as I go along. I recently added a page about vaccinations, as that is something that is asked and I didn’t have in the notebook. I got most of that information from my mother’s patient portal, but I added her COVID vaccines and updated the information as new vaccines are received (like the flu shot each year).

Some people keep this information in their phones or devices. I am not great with electronic devices, so I found a notebook of paper documents most useful. You can use whatever form makes sense for you and your situation.

Thank you again for helping your parents and keeping track of what is happening in their lives. I know I have enjoyed learning so much about my mom’s history and the discussions we had while compiling this notebook.

Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 716-720-9797 or email at SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.

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