Tips to Navigate Through a Crisis – Preparation is Complex
by Dr. Marion Somers, Ph.D
No one is ever fully prepared for this crisis situation we are now experiencing. Yet the decisions you make in a moment of crisis can have a significant impact on the level of care your parent or loved one receives, both in the hospital and after discharge. The key is to educate yourself in advance – before you even get ‘the call’. To help those who find themselves in the hospital emergency with an older parent or significant other you are responsible for – in the case of Covid-19, options are not always ours to direct or dictate.
- Choose your hospital…if you can or if you have the time to decide where the person you are responsible for will be receiving care, get them to a hospital that already has his or her medical records. If at all possible, or you can try to arrange accessing medical records relatively quickly from your loved ones primary doctor.
- Triple check admissions information. Make sure every detail is accurate, and that you have all necessary legal documents in hand or are easily accessible – such as living wills, Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs), Health Care Durable Power of Attorney, and Medicare/Medicaid cards. These are things you can – and should prepare for even before a crisis hits. Also take into account your own legal papers – that may need to be brought up to date.
- To ensure quality of care. It’s up to you to navigate the crisis to advocate for your loved one, so be proactive and don’t be hesitant to ask questions. Keep notes of doctor and nurse interaction, and ask the charge nurse if possible for an overview of all activity. Find the social worker assigned to the floor to address everything from diet to laundry. Find out about any potential surgery situations. The option to be at the hospital and ask these questions may not be an option at this time.
- Plan for discharge. When leaving the hospital for home or a facility, your loved one may experience “transfer trauma,” and feel frightened or disoriented. Make sure you meet via zoom electronic means or phone and talk to the hospital’s discharge planner, who can help you plan in advance to ease the transition. Ask questions like: who will arrange for transportation? What time of day will your parent or loved one be discharged? Will any prescriptions need to be filled? Will any follow-up or home care be required? This information may not be readily available to you, but be prepared to ask.
- In the event of your loved one passing on – all such burial arrangements are best – if prepared for, well in advance both financially and emotionally. This pandemic has changed all of our lives. We need the support of all who can assist and be supportive.
In an emergency situation, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with as much information as you can in advance, so you’re not without answers at critical times.
Copyright © 2021 Dr. Marion Somers