10,000 people turn 65 each day in the United States. For the first time in American history, there are more than 50 million seniors and many of these seniors are providing unpaid care for a senior loved one or aging parent. In fact, many caregivers are facing their own personal health concerns while caring for another but they do not have a plan for their loved one in case of a personal emergency.
Learn more about the importance of having an emergency care plan and what you need to do to ensure your loved one is cared for in case of a caregiver emergency.
Growing Concern for Caregiver Health
More than 65 million people (29% of the U.S. population) provide caregiving services for a loved one. 66% of these caregivers are women and 37% have children or grandchildren under the age of 18 living with them.
Caregiving can have a huge impact on mental and physical health and in fact, more than 10% of family caregivers report that caregiving has caused their physical health to deteriorate. 80% of caregivers experience a major medical event prior to the caregiving recipient. Additionally, caregiver stress can cause caregivers to age prematurely and even take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life.
With so many caregivers facing health issues personally, it makes sense that caregivers should have a plan in place in case of an emergency that interferes with his or her ability to care for their loved one.
Tips for Creating a Caregiver Emergency Kit
Planning for an emergency should be a priority for caregivers and their family members. Many caregivers are concerned about the health of their loved one in case of an emergency and these tips can help ensure care recipients are well cared for in case of an emergency.
1. Pack an emergency ‘go bag’
This bag should include your caregiver kit, enough clothing and toiletries for 72 hours, and cash. Think through what your loved one will need to be comfortable for 72 hours in case of an emergency and pack it. Your ‘go bag’ should be kept in a safe but easily accessible location. Let trusted loved ones know where it is in case they need to access it for you.
2. Write out a daily plan for the care recipient
Have a daily care plan written out with daily routines, medication schedules, and regularly scheduled appointments. This should include what time the care recipient wakes up, their meal preferences, dietary restrictions, and activities. Have all necessary medical records in here as well.
3. Get legal and financial documents in order
Be sure you have a power of attorney and a current will. Also, have a HIPAA authorization so people on your care team can speak with your doctor.
4. Have an emergency contact list available
This should include doctor information, contacts for other relatives, and anyone else that you would want to be notified in case of an emergency.
5. Provide a list of nearby senior living communities
Even if your loved one is not actively seeking senior living, visit nearby communities and have a list with contact information in your emergency kit. This can help family members and first responders get your loved one in a safe and caring place quickly – while giving you peace of mind having visited these communities already.
6. Review your emergency kit with family and friends
Call a family meeting and let your family and trusted friends know your plans in case of a personal emergency. Let them know where your ‘go bag’ is located, go through all medical documents, and review financial and legal documents. Make sure that everyone is on the same page in case of a personal emergency.
How have you prepared for a personal emergency? Share your tips with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!