How to Create a Caregiver Emergency Plan
No caregiver likes to think the worst will happen and they will be unable to care for their senior loved, but emergencies happen every day. From a health problem to a car accident, caregivers may face a crisis of their own. These unexpected events can put a senior loved one at risk if a solid backup plan isn’t in place.
A good caregiver emergency plan includes information on physicians and medications, as well as senior care providers who can be utilized in a hurry.
Organizing a Senior Loved One’s Important Information
The first step is to organize all your senior loved one’s medical and legal information. Create a binder of information that will allow another family member or friend to step in and take over. At a minimum, your binder should include:
- Copies of legal documents: These will likely include a power of attorney, a living will, and a last will and testament. (The names of these documents may vary by state.) You should also include copies of insurance cards and a copy of their long-term care insurance policy, if the senior has this type of insurance.
- Medication list and schedule: While you might know which physician prescribed what medication and when it needs to be taken, other family members might not. Include a list of what medications the older adult takes, which physicians prescribed them, the pharmacy where they are filled, and the schedule for when they should be taken. Be sure to update this as changes are made.
- Physician and medical information: Add a section to your binder that includes everything related to the senior’s health. A few examples are a list of their physicians and appropriate contact information, a medical history (surgeries, past illnesses, and chronic diseases), and copies of treatment notes and physician visit summaries.
- Daily routine notes: If your family member has a structured routine or a special diet they need to adhere to, include detailed notes in this section. Make it as easy as you can for your senior loved one’s schedule to be maintained.
Interview Senior Care Providers before You Need Them
Another important part of a caregiver backup plan is to develop a list of who can be counted on to care for your loved one if you aren’t able to.
- Family and friends: Give careful thought to who might be able to step in and help on a short-term basis. It might be for a few hours until a professional caregiver can be dispatched or a few days. Include a list of these people and their contact information in your caregiver backup plan.
- In-home caregivers: Local home care agencies are another option to consider. Some are even able to provide around-the-clock care. Before a crisis occurs, interview a few agencies and come up with a list of two or three you feel comfortable with. Add their information to your backup binder.
- Senior living communities: Many senior living communities offer short-term respite care. Take time to research and visit communities near your loved one’s home. Come up with one or two you feel confident about and work with them to get a list of items they need before your loved one could take advantage of a short-term stay.
Our last suggestion is to review this information with a few trusted friends or family members. Make sure they know where to find the binder in the event of an emergency.