No one usually plans to go to the Emergency Room, but if you are one of 48.9 million adults caring for a parent or other senior in your life, consider this:

Adults over the age of 85 will have more than 6 ER visits before end of life. The typical reason for a visit is a fall. You may get the call from your loved one, or a neighbor may call to let you know that an “ambulance” has been called; or, it may be the assisted living staff that notifies you.

Are you prepared to be the best advocate you can be for your loved one? Not unlike the time in our lives when we prepared our “overnight” bag in preparation for the baby’s arrival, taking the time to organize and arm yourself with the following information about your parent(s), will effectively minimize the chaos that occurs when a loved one goes to the emergency room.

Here is Health Champion’s Emergency Room Checklist that will help you prepare for the inevitable time when you are called to join your loved one. Your Emergency Room kit should include:

♦ List of current medications, dosage and prescribing physician. It also helps to have the name and number of the local pharmacy your parent uses.
♦ Medication and food allergies.
♦ Current medical diagnoses and treatments and names of physicians involved in the care.
♦History of recent falls, if any. Does your parent need assistance to walk? Can they get up from a chair unaided?
♦ Brief history of prior medical issues (for example, is there a prior history of stroke, heart attack?).
♦ Any implantable devices? For example, does Mom or Dad have a pacemaker in place? Or, had a knee or hip replacement?
♦Copy of advanced directives and/or living will.
♦ Copy of power of attorney, if it is in place.
♦ Insurance information and copy of card(s) – Medicare, Medigap plan, Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare Part D, if applicable.
♦ Pad and writing implement to keep track of the event. It may be helpful to note the arrival time, name of the emergency room physician in charge of your parent’s case, names of the nursing staff involved in the care and any lab or diagnostic tests that are done.
♦ A small blanket or bed throw – not all Emergency Rooms are plush with comfort supplies and the ER can be cold.
♦ Snacks for the caregiver – you can expect to be in the emergency room between 4-6 hours. Depending on the time of day, the cafeteria may not be open and having some quick healthy snacks (granola bar, raisins etc.) may be better than the vending machine options.
♦ Take your book, kindle or ipad – there is a lot of downtime in the emergency room.

Last but not least, be prepared for a discussion about discharge planning. Depending on the outcome of the emergency room examination, mom or dad may not be immediately returning home. Are you prepared to have them go home with you? Be admitted to the hospital? Be admitted to a rehab facility? Next week’s blog will address things you should consider for each scenario.