Caregivers Preparation for a Trip to the ER
Life as a caregiver involves medications, doctor visits, housekeeping and many other items on a todo list. It may also involve an occasional and nervewracking visit to the Emergency Room. These visits often add a layer of stress to the daily caregiver — who may already be overwhelmed by responsibilities — especially when the visits are unavoidable.
There are many ways to prepare for ER visits, which may help reduce anxiety.
Here are a few tips:
Create a Cheat Sheet
A cheat sheet should include the necessary documents required at ER registration. Have these documents gathered in one place, for easy access.
These documents may include:
- Copies of current insurance cards/information.
- A current list of medications, any known allergies, and emergency contacts.
- An Advanced Healthcare Directive/Durable Power of Attorney for Health
- Five Wishes documents.
- A POLST, or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. (English) | (Español)
- A list of current physicians treating the care receiver.
Pack a Bag
This bag is for the “just in case” events that may occur for your care receiver. Special items to manage or deliver care should be gathered and ready to go.
These items could include:
- Incontinence supplies
- A change of clothes, including undergarments
- Hearing Aid Batteries
- A denture and/or hearing aid container labeled with name and contact phone number
- Spare set of reading glasses
- A favorite book, magazine, crossword or other activity
Pack a Caregiver Bag
Caregivers may encounter a long wait when taking the care receiver on an unplanned trip to the ER. Caregivers should not ignore their own basic needs.
Some items the caregiver may need include:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A phone charger
- Personal medications
- A notebook to take notes, write down suggestions from the medical staff and to compile contact information about resources
- Headphones for music or audiobooks, books/magazines
- Water and snacks
Prepare to be the Advocate
A caregiver arriving at the hospital should be prepared to communicate on behalf of their care receiver if the care receiver is unable to do so.
The hospital staff will need a clear idea of what “normal” or baseline health and behavior and mental status are for the care receiver. Remaining polite, but firm, while delivering this information is crucial.
Things to keep in mind to convey may include:
- The care receiver’s baseline cognitive status, mood state, and physical limitations
- Continence of bowel and bladder
- Existing visual, speech or hearing impairments
- Chronic conditions such as infections, allergies, heart or vascular conditions, diabetes, etc.
Bring Patience, not just the Patient
Be prepared for a wait in the Emergency Department. The staff is required to triage and prioritize the patients who have the greatest emergencies. It is important to remain calm and patient, even if it is only to ease the stress of your care receiver.
Here are a few ideas of ways to relieve stress:
- Take a walkouts ide to get fresh air
- Have a friend join you for company
- Get a snack in the cafeteria, or look for a meditation/quiet room
- Listen to music with headphones or read a book/magazine