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Emergency Preparedness: How to Deal with a Traumatic Midnight Call

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By Dr. Amy D’Aprix, expert in aging, retirement and caregiving

My friend Caroline and I were catching up recently, and the topic turned to her mother, who had been hospitalized after a heart attack last summer. Caroline had been notified via a midnight phone call while away on a family vacation.

“She was unconscious and the nurse needed a long list of information. With Dad gone, I was the only source they had for things like a list of her medications and a history of her past surgeries,” Caroline explained. “Luckily I was able to track everything down with some research, but it took a few hours. I wish I had been better prepared.”

Caroline had never expected to have to quickly assemble her mother’s medical history, especially while in another state on vacation. Her mother is 65 and has always been in good health. There were no signs that she was headed for a heart attack. But Caroline is not alone. Many adult children are forced to come up with crucial information after a medical crisis and feel completely unprepared.

That’s why Home Instead has developed a solution for caregivers. The Caring for Your Parents: Senior Emergency KitSM  is a tool that helps organize aging parents’ important details such as doctors, pharmacies, insurance companies as well as medication lists. Now adult children can have the information ready instantly in case of an emergency.

It is difficult enough to deal with your emotions  in a medical crisis without having to also locate a medical history, insurance policies and a list of phone numbers. You can begin to gather everything you need now while your parent is there to help.

If your aging parent is already in the hospital, you can make the kit a part of the returning home process . You will find that you are given a lot of information by the hospital that you need to keep track of. Recording it in the Senior Emergency Kit will allow you to easily access it in the future.

For more information you can go to or call your local Home Instead office.

Read more articles by Dr. Amy on her blog, Ask Dr. Amy.

Last revised: August 17, 2012

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