Emergencies can happen at any time but dome demographics, such as elderly people are most at risk because of chronic health conditions or special needs such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Whether you’re caring for a loved one or are simply a professional caregiver, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place in case something happens.
Elderly people are more susceptible to falls due to decreased mobility and, in many cases, may have a co-occurring health condition that requires special treatment. Other common emergencies in the elderly are strokes, heart attacks, and diabetic emergencies.
When caring for an aging loved one, it’s important to have a plan together to keep them safe in the event an emergency occurs.
1. Get First Aid/CPR/AED Certified. This way, you’ll be prepared to administer care as you wait for an ambulance, doctor or nurse to come and aid the injured or ill individual. Taking advanced CPR/First Aid Classes are ideal since they will often go into more depth about specific medical emergencies and you can be better prepared to help.
2. Keep Important Information Handy. Documents, records, allergy, medication lists, DNR orders, and contact numbers are good to have during in an emergency. Making additional copies of these documents and lists and having them handy can be a life-saver, literally, during the event of a medical emergency. Having a copy in your home, their home, and in your car are great places to stow away this information if it cannot be accessed digitally or you don’t want to keep it in “the cloud.”
3. Keeping a First Aid Kit, and an Overnight Hospital Bag Nearby and Accessible. Preparing and having these items on hand can be helpful, especially during a stressful emergency situation where you may be too anxious or in too much of a hurry to grab what you need and take it along. There should be enough changes of clothes and medications in the hospital bag to last a few days for your loved one. Packing one for yourself can also be helpful, and don’t forget about a phone charger!
4. Discuss With Your Loved One and Invest in a Medical Alert System. Medical alert systems allow for your loved one to get care as quickly as possible if they are having a medical emergency. They’re generally wearable devices such as necklaces, bracelets, or watches. The device is connected to an emergency system that when the button is pushed, sends out a call to a family member or emergency services for help.
5. Have a Group Discussion with Everyone Involved in Your Loved Ones Care. Communicating with your loved one’s care team ensures that everyone’s needs are met, and an open discussion includes information about wishes, who to call, as well as the ability to delegate several emergency contacts in the event that your primary or secondary one is unavailable to help. Be sure to communicate with in-home caregivers and CNAs as well so they know what to do when a medical emergency happens and your loved one can get the most efficient and safe care.
Emergencies happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry and having your emergency plan in place BEFORE something happens is important. This will give you time to think and react and handle what needs to be done if there is an emergency, and hopefully can aid in minimizing stress for everyone involved.
Discussing your emergency plan with everyone who cares or may know your loved one is crucial to success and prompt treatment of a medical emergency. For more information on emergency care for your aging loved ones, we recommend you check out the Red Cross here.