If you live away from your aging parent, there are several things you should do to make sure you are prepared for emergencies. First, your parents may have lived in their neighborhood for years. You wave to neighbors every time you visit Mom, but would they know what to do if your mom were taken away by ambulance one day?
The basics are essential
Put together a sheet with your full name, full address and contact information. Give more than your home number. Give them all your numbers – home, cell, work. That way someone will have a greater chance of finding you if they need to reach you quickly.
Make sure that you also get a sheet with contact information for several of your parent’s neighbors and closest friends. Include Mom’s place of worship and her religious leader as well. Nothing would be more frightening than calling for a couple days with no answer, and not knowing who else to call to check on them. (911 is always a last resort.) This information is also useful if you need help to organize some local care-giving support, or some local eyes and ears!
Next, make sure that you have talked to your parents about their medical information. Write it down. Don’t rely on your memory. Have a list of medicines – what they take, what for, how long they have taken it. Get a list of all doctors they have been seeing and for what. Get the basics down of their medical history – what are their current conditions, and any recent hospitalizations, surgeries.
Know where they keep the bills
You don’t need to see them at the moment, but you do need to know where your parents stash the paper work that they use to pay the bills. If there was an emergency, you’d at least need to know where to look.
Ideally, you’ll encourage your parents to list the location of bank accounts, savings and all credit cards and other bills.
Where do they keep the car keys and where are the spares? Where do they hide an extra key to the house? Which neighbor or friend has a key, and how would you reach them?
Who has the legal authority to make decisions for your Mom if she is temporarily unable to decide for herself? She needs a Health care proxy for medical decisions. Because of federal privacy laws, this legal authority is needed even to talk to her doctor or confirm that she is in the hospital. She needs a Durable Power of Attorney for someone to pay the bills if her incapacity is extended.
Who else knows?
Make sure that your brothers or sisters have copies of this information as well. You want your extended family to be prepared to be helpful in case of emergency.
Don’t delay on assembling this information with your aging parents. Ideally, you will compile this information for yourself as well.
By: Dale Susan Edmonds
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