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Caregivers and family members are a vital part of the health care team for an aging loved one. They help to advocate for their loved one, assist them with doctor visits, ensure they are following their care plans and support them during health emergencies.

Having the right information about your parents’ or loved one’s health could save their lives.

Use the following list to make sure you have necessary information and documents should an emergency arise.

Emergency Medical Information

  1. Contact Information for all Healthcare Providers  – Keep the names and phone numbers of doctors and specialists, including primary care physicians, on hand.
  2. Current Medications and Allergy List – Have a list of current medications to help doctors address issues related to multiple medications and risks associated with drug–drug interactions. Also keep a list of food or individual drug allergies.
  3. Medical Histories, Including Personal Lifestyle – Keep a list of medical conditions, past surgeries and major medical procedures. Doctors use this information to make decisions about possible future medical procedures and treatment options.
  4. Medical Records Access – Find out whether your parents have signed a form that allows their doctors and insurance companies to release their medical information to you. If not, ask them to sign privacy agreements to allow you access in emergencies.
  5. Contact Information of Neighbors – Ask mom and dad for the name and number of a trusted neighbor who can be called to check in on them and alert you if there is a problem.
  6. Advanced Directives, Living Wills and Goals of Care – Get the details of your parents’ living wills and who’s authorized to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. Have this conversation now, rather than in the midst of a medical emergency. Initiate discussions with your loved ones regarding their end of life wishes during "dinner table" conversations rather than waiting for the "right" time.

Gathering this information and having these conversations are not easy or comfortable. But being prepared in a medical emergency of an aging loved one will reduce some of the stress involved.