If you have elderly loved ones or friends, you should be prepared for a call that they are going to the Emergency Room. It’s a call nobody wants to get but being prepared will help the experience be a little less stressful. Here is a life saver that we learned over far too many ER visits.
Pack an emergency bag and keep it in your car as you never know where you’ll be when you get the call. Here are some suggestions for what you should have in the bag for your loved one and for yourself:
- Plug and charging cable for your phone. You will have a lot of hurry up and wait time and you’ll be amazed at how quickly scrolling will drain your battery. There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time in the ER and finally having a diagnosis and plan and having no charge left on your phone. Be prepared!
- Notepad and pen—this will be good to write down questions for doctors and other medical staff. They’re also good to keep notes when the doctor visits as she will give a lot of information and it’s hard to remember it all.
- Bring a refillable water bottle. You need to stay hydrated too. Some staff is good about offering water to family, not all are. Filling your water bottle will be a nice mini break—take care of yourself too.
- Snacks—there’s nothing worse than running out to the vending machine or cafeteria for something to eat and missing an important visit from the doctor. Power bars, nuts, trail mix—choose things that can stay in your car until needed without expiring or going bad.
- Phone numbers—bring important phone numbers for your loved one—their friends’ numbers which you may not have in your phone. Friends want to be kept up to date too. Ask them to start a phone tree (even better have one already established so it’s ready to go when needed)
- A deck of cards—again, lots of hurry up and wait. It is nice to have something to do during down times
- Puzzle books—do you or does your loved one like crosswords, word search, sudoku, others? You can get large print puzzle books from Dollar Tree.
- Books—keep a good paperback in the bag so you have something to read.
- Plastic bag for clothes or possessions—you may need to take home soiled clothing or personal belongings. Be prepared with a bag just in case.
- Container for dentures, hearing aids, contacts, glasses, jewelry—these valuable (expensive) possessions get lost all too frequently.
- List of the medications your loved one is taking—the ER staff will ask for it and will compare what they’re taking with what their systems shows they should be taking.
- Names and phone numbers of all their doctors
- Set up a family member or friend who can step in for pet care in case you and your loved one is stuck at the hospital for an extended period.
- Copy of Documents in case the hospital doesn’t have on file that you are the power of attorney for health care and copy of Advanced Care Directive and/or POLST
Being in the ER with a loved one is very stressful. Having your emergency bag packed and ready to go will help tremendously.