Emergency hospital admissions may by their nature be stressful, particularly in the middle of the night with blue lights flashing etc. There are some useful things you can do beforehand in case your parents or relatives find themselves on their way to A&E in an emergency.
5 Tips to be prepared for a medical emergency
1.List of medication
Keep an uptodate list of regular medication taken by your parents. Blood thinners such as warfarin are particularly important to note. Also list chronic conditions, recent surgeries and any other useful medical information.
Keep the list on your phone, but also put a hard copy somewhere easy to access, such as the fridge door (in your parents home). This may be useful for the medics if no-one else is in the house.
2. Emergency contact details
Along with the medication, create a list of useful emergency contacts – family, neighbours, the GP, carers – to stick on the fridge door aswell.
The hospital will need a next of kin. It’s a good idea to decide who this might be before it becomes necessary.
3. Advance directive and important information
Check if your elderly parent or relative has an Advance Directive regarding medical interventions, and/or a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) instruction. The hospital needs a copy of these documents, which the GP can send.
A Power of Attorney will ensure that your parents wishes regarding their healthcare will be included even if they are unable to make those decisions themselves. It will also enable someone they appoint to manage their finances whilst they are in hospital.
4. Pack a bag
If you are very organised you could help your parents keep a bag packed with some of the essentials: medication, washbag, nightwear and slippers; glasses, dentures and hearing aids etc. Also copies of the paperwork – list of medication, contact details and Advance Directive. Also include a favourite book or something to read/do in hospital.
5. Looking after the home
Ensure someone has access to a set of house and car keys
- Contact details for a cleaner, gardener, companion etc will be useful
- Check for bills that need to be paid
- Secure the house if it empty, including the car.
There may well be other considerations such as how to care for a parent still at home. It is worth having some ideas in your back pocket for various “what if” scenarios – ready meals in the freezer, care agencies or providers locally; meal delivery options; walking the dog and transport to and from hospital for visits etc.
Unpredictable and unexpected an emergency hospital admission may be, but hopefully by putting a few things in place beforehand will make it easier and marginally less stressful should it happen.