When it comes to emergency room visits, I probably have been more times than the average person due to the nature of my job. But this year with the flu hitting near epidemic levels not only just in Alabama but also nationwide, emergency room visits have been experienced by many. Trips to the ER can be a scary situation at any age. The ER can prove particularly challenging for the elderly. Here are some suggestions to help you keep it cool when you find yourself in the hot seat taking a senior loved one to the ER.
The first week on the job as a brand-new administrator I found myself headed to the ER following an ambulance with one of my residents who I had obviously just met that week. Now mind you, I had called their family and notified the proper folks of the situation. But for a short time, it was just me and this resident (who was experiencing chest pains) in a room in the ER as they were being seen by the doctors and nurses. I was grateful for a paperwork process that was in place in our community so I had the answers to the questions that were being asked by hospital personnel. We use what we call an Emergency Red File for each resident in our community for such an occasion. Inside we keep copies of the residents’ most recent medical exam and plan of care, insurance cards and other ID as well as advance directives and Power of Attorney documentation if they have them. It is called a red file because well, it’s red in color. Our local hospital staff has gotten very acclimated to our “red files” and it makes registration and getting medical staff some initial information on the resident so much easier. It also helps keep the resident calm because they aren’t having to give answers to so many questions. Our families appreciate this as well. They are usually a barrel of nerves at the call that their loved one is being taken to the ER anyway. It is a relief for us to go ahead and have all of this information readily available. Most regulations require assisted living communities to have this as part of the chart and way. It is so much easier to have this type of file ready to go at a moment’s notice versus stopping to make copies. We just make sure to secure them in a safe location, update them as appropriate and add the most recent medication list at an emergency occurrence.
Pack like a Pro
In addition to an emergency file, having a small bag packed is a huge help. I have been in situations where family members couldn’t get to the hospital that day due to travel outside the country, illness and more. I’m typically going to ensure that the resident has someone with them to be there and comfort them and so that I can get the information to pass along to the family. That is why having a bag packed and ready is a huge help. Now, this bag doesn’t need to be big and bulky or loaded down and cumbersome. But there are a few items I would suggest to take to help the resident and you be set up for as smooth “as possible” visit to the ER. Some things to consider packing include:
- Depends (pads, etc) for residents that require them
- Snacks (for both you and the resident)
- Phone charger
- Small blanket
- Water bottle(s)
- Ziplock bag
Now I know that most hospitals can provide you with many of these items. But it doesn’t take much preparation to have these things ready to go. Sure, there are some emergency situations that emotions will be high and some of these items will be the last thing on your mind. But if you make gathering this and your emergency file part of your process, they can make a tough situation a little more bearable. Remember that these items may be necessary for your resident and you. So, pack accordingly. I suffer from migraine headaches. My triggers for them include multiple things. But ranking up pretty high include: stress, dehydration and skipping meals. I’m no good to anyone else and can’t take care of them if I don’t take care of myself. I say all of this to say that proper planning can help you be more effective to your residents and their families.
At present date, the Alabama Department Health has made the following recommendations regarding visiting the ER or doctor’s office for FLU RELATED ISSUES:
“For people with mild to moderate flu or flu-like symptoms, please do not go to your doctor’s office without calling first and do not go to the emergency room. Please call your doctor to see if you are eligible for antivirals without an appointment. Many insurance companies now have a “call a provider” service to help with mild to moderate illnesses; please take advantage of this service before going to doctor or hospital. Mild to moderate cases of the flu usually do not require a hospital visit. Patients who do visit an emergency department or outpatient clinic should be aware of long wait times.”
As with all emergency situations use your best judgment, especially when it comes to an elderly person who may have a reduced immune system.
Ah yes…you can hear the commencement speeches filling the air. It’s the time of year when young men and women close one chapter of their lives and start another. So aside from the wisdom that they have gained from their educations up until this point…we thought it might be intriguing to get some advice from a generation that has already been there and done that. Here is some advice to the Senior Class of 2017 from some of our assisted living seniors.
5 Life Lessons from our Assisted Living Senior Class
- Keep your mind open and don’t stress if you have to start at the bottom to work your way up. You can do it! Learn the value of hard work.
- Knowledge is power. Continue your education because that is something that no one can take away from you.
- Wake up each day with an open mind and a full heart. Everyone will not always have the same values as you. Stay rooted to what you know while still showing kindness.
- Think before you speak. Run it through your head before it comes out of your mouth.
- Save your money. You don’t have to have everything you want right now.
Good luck to the Class of 2017 from everyone at
Great Oaks Management and our communities.
Pictured above is Great Oaks Management resident,
Sara Hamrick and her granddaughter Victoria.
You have had the tough conversations. Everyone is on board. You have found the ideal community and they have a spot that is perfect for your loved one. Your aging parent has been evaluated and deemed appropriate for assisted living. So with the completed required physician paperwork in hand you are headed down the yellow brick road to assisted living happiness! But wait…what exactly DO you DO now? Daddy HAS to have his favorite chair and Mama isn’t going ANYWHERE without her beloved bedroom furniture. Sound familiar?? I’ve had multiple residents say the transition was so much easier when their new apartment felt like home because they were able to bring significant pieces from that home with them. So don’t fret…with courage, heart and the knowledge that you need, you can click your heels together and help your family member get comfortable in their place.
Based on the floor-plan that you choose, you can help them decide what furniture will fit best in their room. On all of our property webpages and the Great Oaks Management website, you can find the dimensions and layouts for the rooms. This can help you visualize how you want to set up the area. As each resident is unique in their personality-their room can and should reflect their style and taste. Does Dad like having his cup of coffee while sitting in his recliner watching the evening news? Try taking photos of the current setup for your loved one and trying to match the arrangement as best as possible to set them up for success.
You also want the room to be familiar but also functional. Reducing clutter and being mindful of any transfer devices such as walkers or wheelchairs is a key component. Now you don’t want to be considered the “Wicked Witch of the West”! So don’t get stressed about HOW to start the process. We have a helpful list below of What To Bring to get you started.
For more information about Great Oaks Management and its communities, please visit www.GreatOaksManagement.com.
In today’s healthcare climate, we often find the time that our physicians are able to spend with us during our visits are short and can feel rushed. There are things we can do to make the most of our time with our physician and that will help our physician in working with us to plan our care. Below is a list of 5 things to do to prepare for next physician appointment:
- In preparing for our visit, gather any information from visits to other healthcare providers since our last visit with our primary care physician. Any test results, reports or other paperwork is important to share with your primary care physician.
- All prescription medications, in their original bottle should be brought to each physician visit. Point out any new medications that may have been prescribed by another healthcare provider so your physician can add it to your record.
- A list of all over the counter medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you are taking.
- A list of any new health problems you are having or questions. We often get into the physician office and completely forget to tell our provider about new health problems.
- Ask questions. If your physician discusses something that isn’t clear or sounds confusing, ask questions or ask for more information.
Our physicians are our partner in helping us improve or maintain our health. It is important that we share information that our physician needs to have a full picture of our needs and any medications or supplements we are taking. Writing down our questions before the visit will help us remember the things we are concerned about and will make sure our physician has a chance to address our questions. Preparing in advance will help make the most of our time with our physician.
For more information, visit GreatOaksManagement.com!