The Black Hole of Not Knowing


by Joy Loverde

Put yourself in this situation for a moment. Your Mom is rushed to the emergency room. She’s too ill to speak and the eldercare emergency, medical records, caregivingdoctor asks you if she is allergic to any medications.

a)  You don’t know the answer and fear what may happen next.

b)  You try to recall her doctor’s name, and start paging through the Yellow Pages.

c)  You know that she’s allergic to penicillin because you carry a copy of her medical history with you at all times.

The medical emergency scene is intense, and HIPAA privacy regulations have made matters even more complicated. But you will never forgive yourself if you find yourself at a loss of words in a medical emergency situation.

In the past, patients believed that their well being was solely in the hands of their doctor. Today, the best decisions made about healthcare and methods of treatment are cooperative efforts between informed patients and their doctors. The more accurately you and/or your parent can describe their health concerns and use of medications, the better the doctor can diagnose and treat the problem.

I recently wrote about downloading your aging parents’ Medical History information onto a flash drive. How about making a commitment to get this caregiving task done before the end of the year?  I know I sound like a broken record but it’s worth repeating again and again. Just because we hate the thought of family medical emergencies of any kind doesn’t mean we can sit back and not plan for the day we hope will never come.

Another cavernous issue where family members typically keep their head in the sand is the one about the possibility of parents running out of money. According to recent surveys, the average amount of money spend by family caregivers who help their parents stay afloat is $6,000 a year – and I don’t believe that number for a second.

I ask you to tell me with a straight face whether or not you know for certain that your aging parents have enough money to keep them safe and secure should they live to be 90 and over. In an age where one hearing aid can cost thousands of dollars, I’m betting that we may all be in for a few financial surprises down the road.

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