by Joy Loverde
Eldercare: What to do if you are caught off guard – Part Two
No matter your eldercare emergency situation, here are some strategies from The Complete Eldercare Planner to help pull it all together. Importantly, don't let anyone rush you when an emergency strikes. Resist the temptation to make quick decisions. You are in more control of the situation than you think.
Keep others informed. If you must leave work immediately, give a co-worker the telephone numbers of where you can be reached during the day and evening hours, and the telephone of a close relative who will relay messages in your behalf. Do not make promises on when you will be returning to work. You do not know at this time. Later on when you have down time, call work and keep them apprised of the situation.
Get organized. In an emergency, you will be responsible for remembering many important details. Create a file (one per elder) to store information and documents in one place. If you don’t have a file handy, a large envelope will do. Keep the file with you at all times. Be aware of access to a photocopier, fax service, and overnight mail delivery services.
Write everything down. During conversations with the medical staff, advisors, and family members, take notes. Put dates on these notations. Record names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, care options, related costs, your expenses, instructions, directions, who is doing what -- everything.
Access eldercare professionals. Surround yourself with the eldercare experts who are involved in your elder’s care both short and long-term -- doctor, hospital discharge planner, pharmacist, attorney, financial planner, home care provider -- everyone who plays a role in your elder’s well being.
Ask a lot of questions. Before making any decisions, solicit the opinions of the experts. Remember, asking for advice does not commit you to adhering to their counsel; you are simply gathering information in order to make informed decisions. The quality of care our elders receive is largely dependent upon the quality of our questions. The Complete Eldercare Planner (Mary please link the book to my Amazon Page) offers specific questions to ask the professionals in every possible eldercare situation. In an emergency, you will want to address these issues:
- Medicare and health insurance coverage for products and services
- Housing options – Will your elder stay home or need to relocate?
- In-home personal care – from cooking and bathing to running errands
- Home healthcare – from managing medications to skilled nursing care
- Medical transportation services
- Hospice - care and counseling for dying patients and their family members
- Gather an informal network of support. Make a list of people who can help you -- from neighbors to other family members to grandkids to church groups surround yourself with helpers. You and you alone cannot assist your elder. Write down telephone numbers and email addresses, and let them know that you may be calling upon them for help any time, day or night.
- Make a to-do list. Keep track of caregiving tasks for you and your elder such as running errands, housekeeping, opening mail, plant tending, child care, transportation, bill paying, and shopping. When people ask how they can help, let them choose from your list. If they don't ask, pick up the telephone and request their assistance. You are going to need help with a multitude of work/life responsibilities whether you realize it or not.