Caring for older adults

If you’re visiting or caring for an adult in their later years, there is information that you need to know.

Caregivers need to know a number of things to properly take care of their elderly family and friends.
Caregivers need to know a number of things to properly take care of their elderly family and friends.

Recently I visited my parents who live in Florida. We had a great visit, but since I live in Michigan I do worry about their health care. Are they taking their medication? Are they taking the right medication? Are they following a special diet? Did they have medical appointments while I was visiting?

I had so many questions and didn’t want to overwhelm my parents by asking them all at the same time. So I thought about information I would need and wrote my questions down.

What caregivers need to know about the person they are caring for:

  • What medication do they take, the dosage level and time of day?
  • Do they have a list of their prescription drugs including name, dosage and time to take, with or without food?
  • Which pharmacy fills their prescriptions? If it’s a national chain, check for a local address on the bottle.
  • For mail order prescriptions, ask what company is used and how to order refills.
  • Is there a list of all personal care and specialist doctors who treat them, including the name of the doctor, clinic or practice, address and phone number?
  • How do they record and track upcoming appointments?
  • Are they following a prescribed diet? If so, what is the dietary plan? Who do they call for dietary questions?
  • If they have diabetes, do they take medication including insulin, what is the dosage and how often do they take it?

Find a time to approach your loved ones with these questions. Assure them that you’re only asking for this information so that you will be better prepared in case of an emergency. Older adults want to remain independent as long as possible and may view these questions as an invasion of their privacy.

Using a respectful attitude will enable you to get the information you need. Knowing the answers to these questions gives you the assurance that in an emergency you’ll be prepared.

For other topics about health, caregiving and aging contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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