When your parent or other loved one gets older, you can find yourself shifting into an advocate or caregiver role. Even if your loved one doesn’t need your hands-on assistance or support, they might benefit from having you help them plan physician appointments, keep track of medication questions, or be available in an emergency.
Having the most current information about your loved one can go a long way when it comes to peace of mind. Here is what information you should have on hand as you support your loved one as they get older.
Current Medication List
Most older adults take more than five medications each day and it is common for many medications to be prescribed by different physicians or specialists. Knowing what your loved one takes, how often they take it, and at what dose, can help you best advocate for their medical needs and give emergency responders the information they need to care for your loved one.
Compile a current list of medications from your loved one’s pharmacy and then ask your loved one if they also take vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications regularly. Then, add those to your list as well.
Update your medication information every time you pick up a prescription, or at least twice per year.
In addition to your loved one’s medication information, be sure to have contact information readily available. Ensure you have a current list of the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and office addresses of your loved one’s physicians, specialists, and therapists. You should also have updated contact information for any other important people in your loved one’s personal life, such as other siblings or family caregivers. If your loved one receives home care services, add their contact information to your list as well.
You can keep the contact information list on your phone, but be sure you also back it up as a document on your computer. If you are sharing caregiver tasks with another person, make the document sharable so you can both have easy access.
Next, ensure you have copies of your loved one’s advance directives and estate planning documents. You should have a copy of your loved one’s Power of Attorney documents and a DNR form, if applicable. Include copies of any wills or other estate planning paperwork, leaving the originals in a safe location.
Emergency Response Information
Finally, be sure your loved one has copies of certain documents ready for emergency responders, in case of a fall, accident, or other 9-1-1 call. Some communities encourage seniors to use a Vial of Life to store certain information on their refrigerator or in a cabinet of the home. This way, emergency responders know where to get info such as medical history, medication regimen, emergency contact numbers, and other facts that can help them better serve your loved one in case of an emergency visit.
You can call the fire or police department in your loved one’s town to see what they recommend to older adults in the community.
Apps vs. Paper
Caregivers used to have to use folders and filing cabinets to keep track of their loved one’s information. However, you can choose to use caregiving apps to keep track of the information you need to know about your loved one. Look for options that are available for your specific operating system and find one that will work best for you.