About a month after my mother-in-law moved into a new home near us we encouraged her to purchase a lifeline monitor since she would be living alone. This idea met with a certain amount of resistance both for the fashion statement it made and the fact that it was another indication she was aging. As fate would have it, two weeks later we got a late night call from the lifeline operator stating my mother-in-law had fallen. We arrived at her home twenty minutes later. The condo’s security and ambulance were already there. One of the first questions they asked was what medications she was taking. I raced around her home searching for medicine bottles. Next they wanted to know about any existing medical conditions and her doctors’ names and phone numbers. I knew none of these. Luckily for me my mother-in-law was coherent and could assist with this. Realizing how little information I had about her medical condition, I spent the next day making lists of the medicines she was presently taking, doctors’ names and numbers, and her existing medical conditions. I also made a list of substances and medicines to which she was allergic. I put one set of lists in a container in her refrigerator marked EMERGENCY. I kept one at home and made extras to distribute to the rest of the family in the event that we were away and they were the first responders. This was one of my first experiences as a caregiver. It was an indication of how complex the task would become but also underscored the responsibility that came along with it.
– By Hello! Home Care contributing writer Bill Mishico