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Senior Health

Admitting A Loved One To A Hospital

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/13/2010 5:22:40 PM

Whether young or old, few people like the thought of being admitted to the hospital. If you are the adult child of an elderly parent, the prospect of admitting that person to the hospital may be the cause of great concern.

Knowing what you can do to make a hospital admission less stressful for you, as well as for your loved one, can help make the process less frightening. You may need to ask your parents a few tough questions, but the preparation done in advance will pay off if a hospital admission should become necessary.

Know Their Medical History

When you are preparing for a planned hospital admission for an elderly relative, you have plenty of time to gather all of the essential information.

The doctor in charge of the admission will have already taken a detailed medical history of the person going into the hospital, so much of the hard work will have already been done. But what if that person is admitted to the hospital because of an emergency such as a fall or sudden illness? You need to prepare for that scenario well before it happens.

To begin with, many elderly people are on a number of medications. In the rush of an emergency room admission, your loved one may be unable to provide the admitting staff with important medical history information regarding current medications and drug allergies.

Now is the time to sit down with your loved one and make a list of all of the medications they are currently taking, along with the dosages. Also include on the list any over-the-counter medications and supplements being taken, and the frequency with which they are administered. Make a note of all allergies, whether they be to a drug, food, or another substance. Jot down the contact phone numbers for the person's physicians at this time as well.

Make a copy of this list for yourself, and one for any other people who may be involved in their care giving, and have your elderly parent keep a copy of it in a purse or wallet. Remember to update this list if new medications are added, or dosages are changed. Taking this forward-thinking action will prevent the need for a hurried household search for medication bottles later.

Insurance & Payment Issues

Not too many people like to talk about their personal finances, and most adult children of elderly parents are hesitant to ask probing questions about money. However, you will need to ask a few of those uncomfortable questions so that you can best help your loved one's hospital admission go as smoothly as possible. Knowing if your parent has Medicare and any supplemental insurance is essential, as well as where those insurance cards are kept.

Write down the insurance card numbers, or make photo copies of the cards themselves. Do not forget to include the Medicare and insurance company contact phone numbers. Keep these documents and contact numbers with you so that in the event of an emergency hospital admission, you will be able to provide the staff with the billing information needed.

Hospital payment may be the last thing that you will be thinking of, but it will not be the last thing with which the hospital admitting staff is concerned. Don't forget to ask about the need for any pre-authorizations and other details that might be required during their hospital stay.

Know What's Normal

It is human nature to want to make less of any illness, accident or other health issue. This is especially true for an elderly person, as there is always the fear of being shuffled off to a nursing home, or not being able to return to their own home.

If your loved one is holding back important information regarding the degree of the pain they are having, or the extent of their accident, it is important to share what you know with the admitting doctor or other staff members. This includes problems with confusion and increased forgetfulness and clumsiness.

Do not feel as if you are betraying the confidences of the person that you care about. Know that you are doing all that you can to help your elderly parent receive the best medical care possible as quickly as possible.

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