Plan Ahead For Your Next Trip to the ER

By Valerie
February 5, 2015

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit not one hospital but two!

After rupturing my Achilles tendon in a squash tournament, I was taken to our local hospital where upon arrival, I discovered I didn’t have my CareCard on me. Which surprised me, as I was certain it was something I kept in my wallet at all times. Apparently, not! I thought to myself, it’s time to write about ER hospital visits again. Clearly, I need the reminder just as much as my readers.

In British Columbia, almost 50 per cent of all seniors 65 years and older make a trip to their local hospital emergency. Risk of hospitalization increases with age, especially for those older than 85 years. A fall, stroke, heart attack, viruses and infections, and sudden onset confusion (more commonly referred to as delirium) are the most common reasons for a trip to the ER.

Since we can’t bubble-wrap ourselves or our aging loved ones, the best we can do is keep critical information on hand in the event it’s required, including:

Of course, with any medical information, it’s best when current. Updating medical information is unlikely to be at the top of your to-do list; consider putting it in your calendar or Blackberry in three- to six-month intervals – kinda like cleaning the fishbowl. Make copies of your medical information and keep it in different locations. For example, some people keep a copy taped on the back of their bedroom door or on the fridge. It’s always handy for other family or neighbours to have a copy, too.

The Medicine Shoppe in Comox provides a great tool called Lifesafe, which is a plastic vial that holds all of your medical information, and is stored in your refrigerator. It’s very handy for the paramedics or firemen to quickly locate and provides vital medical information and your medical history.

Finally, most trips to the ER average more than four hours, so don’t forget to pack your patience. Of course, up-to-date medical information is just one important aspect of a visit to your local emergency room.

Next column will tackle more ways to be prepared, should you find yourself needing urgent care.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC