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Making a List for the Unexpected

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It is the season where we hear about “making a list…and checking it twice.”  My kids think I get a little too carried away making lists, but having the right list at the right time can save the day when the unexpected occurs.  Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected at us, but even then we can be prepared. 

As a geriatric care manager, I regularly coach families of an older loved one or someone with special needs in list-making, especially if that loved one lives alone.   You may recall in an earlier blog, I started with a list of activities of daily living to use as a way to inventory the functional capacity of a loved one.  Once we see the deficits it becomes easier to develop an action plan.

But think ahead to the phone call you may one day receive that your loved one has fallen or had a stroke or some other debilitating incident.  The first responders or a neighbor may know enough to call you, but now you have to be the voice for the incapacitated loved one.  Do you know their meds and daily doses?  Do you know where they keep their medications?  Do you know who their primary care physician is or if they have a cardiologist, neurologist, or other health care provider who should be called?

Your responsibility as a caregiver is to plan ahead…hopefully for an event that will never happen.  A vital step to this is creating a list of key telephone numbers and other information for your loved one. Write down a list for yourself to keep in your home and at work that includes emergency contacts as well as neighbors, relatives, clergy and others who will need to know.  It can also be helpful to notify close friends so that if a hospitalization follows the incident that your loved one will have the benefit of visitors.

Make copies of insurance cards, keys, electronic openers, combinations, and more.  To avoid confusion, make sure to label keys, so that if access is needed immediately, you’ll be prepared.  You also should have access to any legal documents like the advance directives I mentioned in an earlier blog.  And if your loved one has been living alone, you may need to know the telephone contact information for stopping delivery of newspapers or the mail as well as when the rent/mortgage and other bills are scheduled to be paid.  Having gone though just this short list may now give you a headache as well as a sense of why I think it is important to keep lists.  Write it down…

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.,geriatric care manager Chicago,geriatric care Chicago.

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