If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, managing their medical care can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you stay organized, from maintaining a medication list to keeping track of doctor’s appointments.
If you are a caregiver for a senior family member, you might feel as if you are drowning in a sea of paperwork. From physician visit summaries to Medicare Explanation of Benefits statements, your stack of paper likely grows each week. Organizing essential medical information so it can be accessed easily is essential, but also a bit overwhelming.
While health care systems store information digitally, not all systems communicate with one another. So, if your senior loved one has physicians in more than one health care system, you may need to share updates with them yourself.
The key to getting and staying organized is to create a system that is easy to use. You’ll be more likely to stick with the system if it is simple and conveniently located. Many families prefer an old-fashioned approach to storing documents. A large three-ring binder with tabs for each category can be quickly set up and easily maintained.
We have a few tips you might find helpful as you get started.
Tips for Organizing a Senior’s Medical Information
When you are just beginning to get organized, the first step might feel like the most painful one. That is, pull out all of your family member’s paperwork and sort it by topic. This will make it easier to add it to a binder or an online information management system.
A few suggested categories to incorporate into your system include:
- Medical history: This category would be a good place to store your loved one’s patient visit notes, hospital discharge summaries, and any health summaries a physician may have provided. It’s also helpful to have a list of key family medical information, such as a history of colon or breast cancer, among those to whom the senior is related. This helps medical professionals assess risk factors for hereditary or genetic conditions. Having this information printed out with extra copies to share can save time at each new physician visit.
- Test results: Another section that is helpful to have is one for test results, from blood tests to a physician’s interpretation of imaging studies. This makes it easier for you to share with other providers who don’t have online access to the senior’s medical information but need to be updated on tests performed and the findings.
- Medication list: When you are signing in for a medical appointment, you’re typically asked if any medications have been added or changed since the last visit. Maintaining a comprehensive medication list for your loved one will make this easier to answer. Include dosage information and the name of the prescribing physician. It’s also important to list any over-the-counter medications. They might have an impact on the effectiveness of prescription drugs or even cause an adverse reaction.
- Physician contact list: When multiple providers are involved in a loved one’s care, keeping track of them is important. Create a list of your family member’s current and past physicians. Include all pertinent contact information, such as office addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and fax numbers. Also note their role in your family member’s health plan.
Lastly, have a good system for tracking medical appointments and necessary follow-up tasks. While the calendar on your cell phone may be convenient for storing appointments and setting reminders, this system might need expanding. This is especially true if other family members help transport the senior to and from appointments. Consider using caregiver apps like CareZone that allow multiple people to access and share information.
If you are just beginning the caregiving journey, you likely have questions and concerns beyond managing medical information. This article, 5 Helpful Tips for New Family Caregivers, may be of interest.
Creating a Care Plan for a Senior
When you are caring for a senior loved one, having an emergency backup plan in place is essential, as is starting to think about long-term care. That’s why it’s important to learn more about local senior care options.
For older adults living in and around historic Saratoga Springs, New York, The Wesley Community can be a resource. The campus is home to a full continuum of care, from home care to independent and assisted living, dementia care, and skilled nursing. Call (518) 587-3600 today to learn more!