Caregivers must remember to take care of themselves in order to take care of others. Emergency checklists need to be handy because emergencies generally come when you are least expecting them! What’s on your emergency checklist, and where do you keep it? Here’s a bagful of tips on caregiver essentials for hospital trips.
Hospital trips happen suddenly
Sudden hospital trips with your older adult are incredibly stressful, but there’s one area of stress you can control. Put important information and a few necessities into a tote bag. We call this our caregiver essentials kit.
Creating this kit ahead of time prepares you for any emergency. Stash your bag where you spend a lot of time. If there’s a crisis, grab your caregiver essentials kit, get to the hospital, and feel confident that you have what you need to take care of your older adult and yourself.
What to bring for your older adult
- Copy of insurance card
- Copy of ID or driver license
- Copy of living will, advance directive, healthcare proxy, or medical power of attorney
- Copy of durable power of attorney
- Current height and weight – get this from a recent doctor visit
- Current list of medications – include full Rx name, dosage, and schedule
- Notes about allergies and medications that have caused negative reactions
- Brief medical history – a short list of surgeries, hospitalizations, and current health issues, try to include dates when possible
Don’t count on information being available
Having all this info at hand means you won’t have to scramble when hospital staff asks questions. Also, the hospital might not have your older adult’s information readily accessible even if they’ve been there before.
What to bring for yourself
Chances are, you’ll be spending at least a few hours at the hospital. In some cases, you might need to stay overnight before you have a chance to go home and get some things for yourself. Hospitals are notorious for taking ages to complete tests or have a doctor to talk with you. Having some necessities on hand will help you feel more calm, comfortable, and in control of the situation.
Here are our top suggestions
- List of important phone numbers – if they’re not already in your cell phone
- Comfortable clothes and shoes
- Reading glasses – inexpensive pair from the drugstore or these from ThinOptics
- Phone charger
- Pen and notepad to jot notes, questions, phone numbers, and names
- Book, puzzles, music player for entertainment
- Gum, mints, or packaged snacks so you’re not completely at the mercy of the vending machine selection
- Pillow, ear plugs, or eye mask – if you need to sleep over
- Small bills and change for vending machines