Saturday, February 11, 2006

Keeping Track of Meds, Doctors, and All

In emergencies, or just on days of doctor and dentist appointments, it's so hard to arrive with all the necessary information for one's elderly parent, in updated form: medications, doctors' phone numbers, recent events in the care and medical history.

Here's how a friend of mine, Joyce Holman, handles it all:

I maintain a carefully crafted 2 pages of information about my mom that I update when there are changes to her medication or physician lists, & I give it to doctors & others as needed.
One page describes her medical conditions, preferences, limitations, cautions, & hospitalizations. It helps people to see her as more than an 85-year-old with Alzheimer's disease.
It has phone numbers for my family, the facility where she lives, her doctors, 2 hospitals & a rehab. center, & our minister.
The other page has each medication (its brand name & generic name) & over-the-counter drug or vitamin, dosage, reason, how long she's been taking it at that dose, & recent medicines that she's not taking anymore.
Another page I try to keep updated for the family is a list of all the health-related phone numbers.
I go to appointments with my parents to ask questions, take notes, be an advocate.
I've finally started a 3-ring binder as the repository for notes from health visits & phone calls, lab reports, medication details, disease specifics, symptoms to watch for, letters to doctors & to my mom's facility, the phone list, & the other 2 pages.
My parents' health care advance directives are already in the car, alongside an emergency kit & my overnight bag.

Congratulations, Joyce! May we all be so organized.

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