It’s important to have a plan for emergency situations when aging parents depend on you for care. Even if they are in great physical health, it’s best to be prepared in the event of a sudden illness or accident. You need to make sure you or someone else is legally able to help them in an emergency.
When gathering emergency information from your parents, be considerate to not overwhelm or scare them. You can ask questions and gather information or needed documents over a few conversations instead of all at once.
Here are some important items you should have on hand about your aging parent in case an emergency situation happens. It’s better to be prepared and informed than to scramble to find it in a crisis.
Know your parents’ neighbors, close friends, and place of worship
Find out the full names and phone numbers of your parents’ neighbors and closest friends. Share your name and contact numbers in the event of an emergency they may need to reach you. You may even consider asking your parents to have you listed as their emergency contact in their cellphone if they have one or on a note on their refrigerator.
Also, if you don’t have an emergency key to your parents’ home already, ask if you or someone else may have a one.
Know the name and phone number of your parents’ place of worship and their clergy person. Share your full name and contact info with the church office to save in an emergency file.
Know basic medical information
It’s important to have a list of basic medical information for your parents, such as:
- Their doctors’ contact information, including any conditions they are treating.
- Prescription medications, dosage and what it’s treating.
- All over-the-counter medications taken regularly, including any herbal medications and vitamins.
- List of all allergies.
Other useful information to know is:
- Major medical problems
- Prior surgeries and major medical procedures
- Religious beliefs
- Insurance information
- Lifestyle information
Ask your parents who has been designated as their Medical Power of Attorney. This person will make medical decisions on your parents’ behalf if they are temporarily incapacitated. If you are the Medical Power of Attorney, have the document that states this in your possession and make sure that one resides in all your parents’ medical records. If it is someone else, find out their contact information.
Also, talk to your parents about Advance Directives. This ensures your parents’ medical wishes are fulfilled even if they are unable to make health care decisions for themselves. Federal law states that each patient is in charge of their own medical care and medical decisions.
Identify an emergency plan for finances, dependents, and pets
Even if your parents are in the hospital, there will still be bills in the mailbox to pay. If your parents have designated someone as Durable Power of Attorney, it empowers this person to legally pay bills on your parents’ behalf, access a bank account and sign one of their checks. It’s important to have a list of when bills are due to avoid late fees or having utilities turned off.
Also, you should know the location of your parents’ financial records if they need to be accessed and the location of their will.
If your parents have any dependents in their care, such as a sibling with medical or mental health issues, there should be an emergency plan for their care in the event your parents are unable to provide care. And, don’t forget about any pets. If your parent has a pet, plan ahead who will care for the pet in case of an emergency.
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