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Aging parents: Information you need in case of a medical emergency

Feb 27, 2008
Today, many adult daughters and sons find themselves called upon to help care for their aging parents. Often that care must be provided in an emergency. Could you provide the vital information doctors would need to care for them? If you're like most, you're not sure.

Why You Should Have Instance Access to Your Parent's Senior Health Information

Having your parent's complete medical information handy during an emergency can make a life saving difference. Seniors have more chronic health conditions than the general population. Unfortunately, many adult children aren't aware of all those conditions. Not knowing your parent's medical details can have a life altering impact on the entire family - like not knowing about an allergy to a particular medicine.

If your loved one is unconscious or unable to speak during a crisis, having medical information available can literally be life saving. Medical personnel will need it quickly to properly treat during an emergency.

What Doctor's, Nurses and Emergency Medical Personnel Need to Know

At a minimum have the following information available, as well.

1. Names of doctors-Your parents' doctors are good sources for the details of your parent's specific health care needs. Include the name of the primary care physician and all specialists.

2. Medical history - Including any surgeries and chronic medical conditions like Alzheimer's disease, COPD, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease and cancer and any transplant surgery.

3. Medications - Including over-the-counter drugs, vitamin and other supplements

4. Allergies - Both to medicines and foods

5. Birth dates- Because many times insurance and medical information are stored by date of birth. can improve communication in an emergency or a crisis.

6. Emergency contacts - Include multiple contacts with alternate numbers

7. Advanced directives - The legal documents that tell doctors and hospital personnel whether life support is wanted and if resuscitation efforts should be used.

8. Insurance policies- including the name of the issuing insurance company, the policy numbers and contact numbers to get approval for procedures.

Getting Your Parent's Doctor To Discuss Your Parents Health Issues

Due to privacy restrictions created with the Health Insurance Portability and Affordability Act (HIPAA), doctors are no longer as open as they once were to discussing your parent's medical needs.

Your parent's doctor won't discuss private information with you unless your parent first gives the physician permission to discuss their care with you. The doctor's office may require your mom or dad to fill out a form giving the doctor written permission to freely discuss private medical matters. Without that permission, the doctor may still be willing to talk to you about your concerns and be glad to get your input but don't expect much detail in return.

If it's in your parent's best interest for a medical practitioner to discuss their health issues, HIPAA rules allow them to discuss that care. For example, if your mom or dad isn't able to give important medical information in an emergency. Emergency medical personnel will turn to you for that information.
About the Author
Doe an aging parent have you ready to pull your hair out? Save your hair and your sanity. Get Martin's popular Weekly Elder Care Advisor.

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