We recently wrote a blog about digital health resources that seniors might consider using, but what if you have recently taken on the role of caregiver for a loved one? This can be daunting, especially since it comes with a lot of information you need to organize. Sunrise Senior Living recently wrote an article, “How to Organize a Senior’s Medical Information”, with tips on how to organize all the medical information and successfully conquer your new role as a caregiver.
Senior Sunrise living states that the key to organizing medical information is to create a system that is easy to uphold and update, so you know you will use it. Here are their suggestions for creating your system:
First you need to begin by coming up with a system for sorting information by topic or category. Some ideas:
- Calendaring – There are two calendaring items to breakdown. First there is the need to keep track of appointments on your calendar, a calendar your loved one has, and maybe even set up a reminder or two in your phone. The second is you will want to document time-sensitive details, maybe when you need to schedule follow ups, or if you need to track anything medical or symptom related on a physical calendar to present to a physician. Keeping a calendar will help with more easily knowing when to schedule follow-ups or tests and can help with diagnosing.
- Medical History – This should include any patient visit notes from appointments or health summaries from a physician, medication allergies, hospital discharge orders, and other various documentation that might be pertinent.
- Test Results – It is always a good idea to keep a physical record of test results, even if they attend one health institution that can share results electronically. Having these physical copies makes it easier to share results, guards against any chance of records not being electronic, and speeds up the wait time if you have to get records sent from one doctor to another.
- List of Medications – Keep an up-to-date list of medications, dosages, and prescribing physicians. This should also include over the counter medications as well. If anything is time sensitive, it is a good idea to note that. You will want to record any changes in medications as well because at each appointment you will be asked if your loved one has had any changes in their medications.
- Family Medical History – A time saving tip is to keep a list of family medical history regarding anything that could be hereditary or genetic risk factors. New physicians will generally want to know this.
- Contact List – Keep a handy list of contact information for your loved one’s physicians, current and past. Provide contact information, whether the person is retired and available or whether they are working. Make sure to include their cell phone and emails.
Once you figure out a system for organizing your loved one’s medical information, you need to determine how you will store it in order to have easy access and utility. You might consider the “old school” large three-ring binder with tabs and plastic sheaths. You could compliment this with digital systems and use the apps mentioned in a prior blog about digital health resources. In addition, Sunrise Senior Living suggests these:
These apps can be a great mobile solution as you can share the information with your important contacts like siblings or children without having to pass around a binder and hope each person is updating it.
Organizing a senior’s medical information is critical when you are a caregiver. It not only ensures you are going to be better able to help them and communicate with doctors, but it also streamlines the process for you if you suddenly need to pull a bunch of information together.
Being a caregiver is a selfless job that can be tough. In addition to organizing medical information, you may find you need the assistance of an elder law attorney, to help clarify how best to take care of you if you can no longer do so. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation so we can see how we can help.