Caregiver Crisis Planning: What You Need

Mar 28, 2019
Senior couple talking with a counsellor

You’re at work, digging into your daily routine and the phone rings. It’s your mom’s neighbor calling to tell you your mom took a fall and is on the way to the hospital. This is a common event and one that everyone caring for an elderly parent or loved one should be prepared for. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, “Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.” And falls aren’t the only crisis that can occur. Other health emergencies, as well as natural and man-made disasters, can happen in an instant, so setting up a caregiver crisis plan enables you to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Begin with the Basics

Prepare and keep updated a parent “fact sheet” containing all of their personal information:

  • Full name, address and phone number(s).
  • Gender, age, and date of birth.
  • All medical conditions and disabilities (both physical and mental).
  • All medications and what they take them for (AARP’s template is a great help with this).
  • All vitamins and supplements they take.
  • Any allergies.
  • Any medical devices they use including implanted devices.
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of all physicians.
  • Driver’s license number, state identification card number and/or passport number and social security number.
  • All insurance information and Medicaid number (don’t forget homeowner’s, life, and auto information in addition to health insurance).
  • Also be sure to have copies of your parent’s power of attorney or healthcare proxy giving you or someone else the authority to make medical decisions, and any advance directives that are in place.

Hospital Prep

If your parent is treated in the emergency room or admitted to the hospital, you will want to be prepared to have a familiar and trusted person by their side. For short-term stays, it may be you, a sibling or a close friend. For longer stays, you will want to organize a group of people to be on call to relieve you periodically so you can rest and take care of personal business. Familiar faces are especially helpful when your parent suffers from memory loss and confusion. Their presence can really help reduce fear and let your parent know they are safe.

Make a list of all those who volunteer, their most current contact information and their hours of availability. You might also set up a phone call chain so that you only have to call the first person to set the chain in action. In this way, everyone will know they may be needed and you can concentrate on your parent. Alternatively, ask one person to make calls to all the others so that you don’t have to.

In the event that you have to be away overnight, be sure to have your own emergency plan in place to cover childcare, meal preparation, transportation to schools, pet care, and so on.

In addition, you should have a pre-packed bag of all the things your parent will need to make them comfortable and help to minimize confusion.

  • Their preferred toothpaste, a new toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, soap, and lotion. Women may want a small makeup assortment as well.
  • Personal products like incontinence pads and denture cleaner, as well as extra eyeglasses and hearing aid if needed.
  • Pajamas, a robe, and slippers with rubber grips. (Many hospitals provide these as well).
  • A sweater or bed jacket in case their room is too cool.
  • Some form of entertainment such as puzzle books, an iPad, tablet or Kindle, books they might enjoy, and headphones so they can listen to audio books or music.

The more prepared you are, the smoother the transition will be. No health crisis is easy, but having fewer things to worry about frees up time and energy you will need to speak with physicians and be strong for your parent. For even more information, take a minute to ready AARP’s blog, “The Organized Caregiver: Documents and Easily Accessible Tech Tools.”

Disaster Prep

When a man-made or natural disaster strikes, you may have hours of warning or only minutes or even seconds. If your parent is able to live alone, be sure to map out with them what to do in case of each possible emergency. In Michigan, for example, blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, and floods are the most common disasters so narrow your plan to those that are likely.

Among the many things you should include are:

  • How to communicate when the power is out.
  • Batteries and, if possible, backup power for medical equipment like oxygen and for recharging batteries for wheelchairs, phones, computers, radios, etc.
  • Contact information for one or more of your parent’s neighbors who can check on them in the event you are unable to.
  • An emergency evacuation plan in step with local authorities.
  • A plan to ensure your parent’s pets are cared for in the event you have to evacuate.
  • The AARP also recommends having a “Go Bag” packed and ready to go.

The Federal Emergency Planning Administration’s brochure, “Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For Older Americans,” is a common-sense guide to preparing for and surviving disasters. Another great resource is “Disaster Preparedness: For Seniors By Seniors” from the American Red Cross. To stay on top of bad weather, consider purchasing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios for you and your parent.

Everything you can do before a crisis is one less thing to worry about during one. Set your crisis plan in motion now and you’ll be ready when the time comes.

For information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

assisted living near me

Subscribe to our blog.

Recent Posts

8 Ways an Independent Living Community Supports Your Lifestyle

What do you want out of retirement? The freedom to roam? Relief from all the responsibilities of owning a home? Time to pursue self-fulfillment? Exceptional services and amenities? No matter how you perceive your desired retirement lifestyle, take a look at some of...

Health Changes to Look for When Visiting Mom Over the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to get together with family and friends, but they also offer an opportunity to assess the health and well-being of a senior loved one. This is especially true if it has been weeks or months since the last visit since changes will...

Dementia: Understanding Sundown Syndrome

Dementia is a devastating diagnosis with many implications, not the least of which is a condition known as sundown syndrome. Also called sundowning or sundowner’s syndrome this condition generally strikes late in the day as the sun goes down but can occur anytime...

5 Tips for Better Mornings with Arthritis

“Arthritis” is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases and conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation.  While people of all ages can have arthritis, seniors often expect arthritis to occur as they age and when it does, mornings can be especially painful....

Why Everyone Needs an Advance Directive

Do you know what will happen if you are suddenly incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself? While it’s human nature to adhere to the “that won’t happen to me” mindset, the reality is that no one knows what the future holds. That’s why every adult needs an...

5 Decorating Tips for Your Senior Living Retirement Home

After years of living in a family home, moving to a senior living community and starting anew means decorating a new senior living home, something that can be a fun and exciting experience. But where to begin? Whether the new home is a house, condo, cottage or...

The Alzheimer’s Disease Challenges Women Face

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating and its prevalence is on the rise. According to the report, “2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” in 2023 there are about 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older with the disease, and as the population ages, that...

Home Safety for Older Adults: A Checklist of Top Considerations

Home safety for older adults is top of mind concern for loved ones and adult children. According to the AARP Home and Community Preference Survey,  79% of seniors (ages 50 and above) prefer to live at home as they age, but only about 34% recognize they may need to...

When One Partner Has a Dementia Diagnosis and the Other Doesn’t

A dementia diagnosis is a devastating event in any marriage and one that really changes everything going forward. Suddenly there are so many unknowns, so many new concerns, and so much sadness that the healthy spouse may be overwhelmed. One of the greatest of the...

What Services Do Memory Care Communities Provide?

Making the decision to move yourself or a loved one to a memory care community should be a well-informed one. All memory care communities are not created equal, but the best have several things in common. When comparing memory care communities be sure to include the...

Share This