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Going to the Emergency Room: Tips for Dementia Caregivers

I was caregiver for my mom who had vascular dementia. I'm not a healthcare provider so I didn't want to guess what my mom was suffering from at the time so, I had to take her to the emergency room often to make sure it wasn't something serious.

The scariest thing about that was she couldn't tell us what was wrong, but you know when your loved one is in pain by paying attention to their mannerisms. You must be your loved one's healthcare advocate and ensure they receive the best care.

Being an advocate for your loved ones care, you should be prepared to have the proper documentation when you arrive at the emergency room. You should have an "Emergency Room Kit" like a folder, binder, and tote bag depending on the situation where you can carry the following documentation listed below, so you can just grab it and go.

1. Photo Identification

2. Bring a complete list of medications

3. List of Allergies

4. Insurance Card

5. Legal Documents (Medical Directive, Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc.)

6. Names of your loved one Primary Doctors

7. Emergency Contacts - you should have it in your phone or printed on a sheet of paper in your "Emergency Kit" of loved ones and friends that you may need to contact and advise of the status of your loved one.

Wait times are usually long so as a caregiver you should bring something for yourself while you wait. You may find that a Kindle, some snacks, a sweater and a charger for your phone may assist in lowering your stress level. If in the case that your loved one has to be admitted you should have this in your Emergency Room Kit." in addition to the items previously listed above.

1. Bring a change of clothes. Your loved ones should be comfortable during their hospital stay. Maybe bring one of their favorite robes and slippers. Of course, the hospital may want them to wear a hospital gown, but you can ask if they would allow you to let your loved one wear during their stay.

2. Toiletries - Most hospitals will provide the essentials, but it's nice to have familiar items from home.

All in all Emergency room visits are quite stressful but if your prepared the process will move more smoothly.

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