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Emergency Checklist for Seniors and Caregivers

Emergencies can happen anytime, especially for the elderly. When you combine their high risk of falls, varying signs of aging, and any acute illnesses, the chance of an incident occurring increases even more. As a caregiver, it’s important that you have the necessary information close at hand to assist you through any sort of emergency. One of your first matters of business should be creating an emergency checklist or packet filled with any vital information regarding each of your patients.  Whatever information you don’t have access to as a caregiver can be obtained from family members. From doctors’ names to insurance policy info, here’s everything you need to have as an in-home care provider in Fullerton.

Medical Information

In the event of an emergency, it’s crucial that you have the pertinent information for your patient. Emergencies happen without warning. Oftentimes, it can leave the patient and the caregiver feeling helpless. It’s important to keep your bearings during an incident. Part of this responsibility is keeping careful record of your patient’s medical information. If paramedics arrive to treat the person you’re caring for, be sure to give them the necessary information that they will need to know, it could impact the lifesaving care they receive. Always keep a list of the general practitioners, specialists, and any other medical professionals that your patient sees regularly. This list should include the names, phone numbers, and specialties of each provider. Along with medical professional information, keep a list of medications attached as well. Carefully note the name of the prescription, use, and dosage on the list. Because these lists may change frequently, make it a priority to update them it as needed.

Medical conditions and history should also be noted. In the event of an emergency, first responders will need to know a brief history of the person they’re treating. For example, do they have a heart condition or an allergy to morphine? Diabetes, MS, and other chronic illnesses should also be reported. This sort of information can drastically alter the treatment that’s administered to a patient during an emergency.

Personal Information

While medical information should always be given first during an emergency, personal information should be a close second. Your patient’s full name and date of birth are necessary when seeking admittance into a hospital. Along with basic information, keep a list of close family members’ names and phone numbers. With contact information close by, you can alert loved ones as soon as an emergency occurs. Keep in mind that while you’re the caregiver, the family of your patient will want to be notified as quickly as possible and kept abreast of the situation. Due to HIPAA policies, you’ll be unable to receive and relay information to the family. The doctors treating your patient will only be able to communicate any private updates directly to family members.

If your patient is religious, they may have a local clergy or parish that they want to have contacted in the event of an emergency. Depending on their religious affiliation, contacting these individuals may be crucial to their healing process or dealing with the aftermath of an incident.

Insurance Information

Basic insurance policy information should be kept on hand at all times. Along with being helpful when picking up prescriptions or taking your patient to the doctor, insurance information is extremely important during an emergency. While it doesn’t dictate the quality of care that the patient receives, it allows the treating hospital to make billing arrangements accordingly. The insurance information noted on your emergency checklist should include the name of the provider, plan name, and identification number. If there is a separate prescription plan, the policy information should also be noted.

In order to retrieve any other plan information that might be needed in the event of an emergency, you’ll most likely need the Social Security number of your patient. Keep in mind that being trusted with someone else’s Social Security number is a sign of trust. Do whatever is necessary to safeguard this number. If your patient doesn’t feel comfortable supplying you with their Social Security number, that’s okay. Simply ensure that a family member or health care proxy has access to the number so that any vital information can be retrieved.

Legal Information

While you may be a trusted caregiver, that doesn’t give you the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of your patients. Unless you’re a designated healthcare proxy, you have no rights when it comes to emergencies. In fact, you most likely will not be given updates as to the status of your patient or any health issues that arise. This information is reserved for health care proxies and family members. If you have been granted this authority, a legal document should have been provided to you. Your health care proxy form, or the health care proxy form of any other individuals, should be included with your list of emergency information.

In some cases, an emergency may leave a patient incapacitated. In this case, the person appointed in the power of attorney document is the one allowed to handle any legal and financial issues. This legally binding document is typically part of a living will. The form should be kept with all other legal documents to prove the authority designated to a specific individual.

It’s also very important that you have on hand a document stating the resuscitation wishes of your patient or their family. If your patient isn’t competent to make medical decisions on their own, their family members or healthcare proxy may have set forth resuscitation orders. Without understanding this information, it’s impossible to know how to handle an emergency if it arises.

Preparing an emergency packet and checklist is an important part of providing adequate in-home care in Fullerton. Whether you’re the healthcare provider or a family member preparing the information for your hired caregiver, make sure that you have all of the needed documents in order. Then, in the event of an emergency, you’re prepared for whatever happens.

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Kitchen Safety for Seniors

The kitchen is an incredibly dangerous place for everyone, as there are many unsafe obstacles that can hurt your loved one. Appliances, tools and foods all pose threats to your elderly loved one if he or she is not careful and meticulous in their kitchen safety. Here are some tips to make sure the kitchen is safe for your elderly loved one.

  • Encourage your loved one to never leave food unattended while they are cooking. Food that is being cooked should be watched at all times.
  • Do not touch a pot or pan that is hot without an oven mitt.
  • Use electric teakettle’s rather than traditional ones.
  • Try to purchase automatics shut-off devices when possible to prevent a fire.
  • Clean up the areas that are traditionally cluttered, such as the cupboards or high up drawers, to prevent them from reaching and falling.
  • Make sure that the heavier items in the kitchen are available to your loved one around hip level, to prevent them from straining themselves.
  • Test all smoke detectors every month.
  • Make sure that meats, vegetables, eggs and fruits are all stored properly in the fridge and that cross contamination is not happening. If cross contamination does happen, it is best to throw away the food that was effected and the surrounding food as well.
  • Make sure that all sharp knives are sharp enough to cut their food, but not too sharp.
  • Do not take risks with leftovers! If you are unsure of something, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is possible to get food borne illnesses from leftovers!

We know that the kitchen can be a scary place, especially for the family members of an elderly individual. If your loved one is capable of working their way around a kitchen, make sure you share these tips with them to remain safe. Remember, once your loved one is at a point where he or she can no longer move around safely, a caregiver can help your loved one around the house and prepare their meals for them. Our goal is to keep your loved one safe and to give you the peace of mind that you deserve.

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Bathroom Safety for Seniors

Did you know that every 11 seconds an elderly individual goes to the emergency room for a fall-related injury? Your loved one can be at risk for becoming a fall victim every time they enter their bathroom, if it is not fit for their needs. We think it is important to be proactive and to make the bathroom a safer place for your loved one, before it becomes too late.

  • Install a chair in your loved ones’ shower. If your loved one has trouble standing, staying balanced and prefers sitting down, try a shower chair. This will allow them to sit down and either use the shower themselves or they will be able to sit while their caregiver helps them bathe. This will make them more comfortable and allow them to feel safer while they bathe.
  • Buy non-slip mats to prevent falls. Mats can help your loved one stand their ground and avoid slipping. The mats should be placed inside and outside the tub, as well as around the toilet or sink.
  • Make sure their toilet is suitable for their needs. The toilet seat should be raised and cushioned for them, so that they can sit with ease and comfort. Additionally, it can be beneficial to install handrails next to the toilet or find a toilet set with built in handrails.
  • Reorganize the bathroom so that the things your loved one uses daily is within reach. Clear out the higher cabinets and place those items in a lower cabinet or buy drawers that are easier to reach. Plastic drawers may be purchased at your local Target, Walmart or home store. These are likely to be at a lower height and easy to open and close.
  • Make sure the lighting is up to their standards. It is important to make sure that our loved one feels comfortable in the bathroom and that they can see what they are doing. The lighting should be bright enough to allow them to see clearly, but soft enough to be easy on their eyes to prevent them from getting dizzy and losing their balance.

The safety and happiness of our clients is our priority and we want to prevent your elderly loved one from becoming another statistic. We hope that these tips and helpful hints allow your loved one to use the restroom in a safe manner. However, if your loved one needs more assistance to stay safe, our caregivers can help them in their daily tasks, including bathing and toileting.  A caregiver can be the extra support system and shoulder to lean on for your loved one to keep them as safe as possible.

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