For aging parents and their adult children, organizing and keeping track of essential health information can be a challenge. This is particularly true if caregiving responsibilities are shared among several relatives, or if a senior has chronic medical conditions that require the care of multiple providers.
The first step to getting organized is to collect all of the essential information. Then, you’ll need to decide on a method of storing the information that is portable, shareable and easy to maintain and update.
Information to Collect
The good news is you probably have most of this information already. If not, start with what you do have and add the rest when you can.
- Health Insurance & Medicare Cards, or photo copies of the front and back of each card
- Physician Contact Information, including the name, address, phone number and area of specialization for all doctors, pharmacies, laboratories, therapists, etc. currently in use
- Medication List, including dosage, frequency, reason and date started, if known, as well as over-the-counter drugs vitamins and supplements
- List of Allergies, or reactions to medications
- Health Conditions & Illnesses, list all current medical conditions and ailments, and date of diagnosis, if known, as well as any history of smoking, alcohol and drug use
- Hospitalizations & Surgeries, list dates and details, if known
- Emergency Contacts, including name, address, phone number and relationship to patient
- Appointment Reminder Cards, or a list of all currently scheduled appointment times and locations
The following items are less common, but should be included if they apply.
- Health Care Proxy, Advanced Directive or Living Will
- Special Logs, such as blood sugar levels or blood pressure readings
The key is to make all of the senior’s medical information easy to access, share and update. This can be accomplished with a shared calendar app and either a three-ring binder and clear pockets, or with digital document sharing tools. In fact, you may find a combination of printed documentation and digital lists work best.
Regardless of whether you opt for print or digital, if multiple people are responsible for scheduling appointments and providing transportation, a calendar app is absolutely imperative. With an app like Google Calendar, all parties can easily view and update appointments to avoid any conflicts.
If you choose the three-ring binder approach, here are a few tips to help you get organized and stay organized.
- Boldly and clearly label the outside of the binder “MEDICAL INFORMATION”
- Store it in a convenient location, such as a drawer near the entry, and ensure all caregivers know where it is located
- Use clear, top-loading sheet protectors to make it easy to remove documents for photocopying or sharing with a medical provider
- Pick up special business card pages for storing health insurance cards, physician business cards and appointment cards
- Use dividers to make it easy to find specific information, such as the medication list
Digital Document Sharing
While a binder may make sense for storing printed documentation that isn’t likely to change, such as a healthy proxy or living will, a digital document sharing platform is ideal for information that needs frequent updating, such as medication and allergy lists and physician and emergency contact information, as well as health logs for blood sugar levels and blood pressure readings.
There are a few apps available for storing medical information, but if you’re looking for an easy-to-use platform for sharing documents and spreadsheets with family members, Google Drive is a great option. It can be used on Apple and Android mobile devices, as well as desktops, laptops and tablets, and allows users to view, edit and track revisions.
Medication is one of the most challenging tasks for seniors and caregivers to manage. With nearly half of seniors over the age of 70 taking upwards of 5 prescription drugs a day, it can be stressful to keep track of timing and dosage. In fact, medication mishaps are one of the leading causes of emergency room visits for seniors. A smartphone app, like Medisafe can help, but if a senior requires assistance with everyday tasks in addition to medication, it may be time to consider assisted living. In fact, medication management is one of the most commonly used services in our assisted living communities.
Assisted Living Helps Keep Seniors on Track
If you’d like to learn more about how Eddy Senior Living keeps residents on track with medication management, transportation to doctor appointments and more, or you’re interested in learning more about our assisted living & enriched housing communities in Troy, East Greenbush, Slingerlands, Niskayuna and Queensbury NY, give us a call at (518) 280-8385.