When your body tells you that you need emergency care, you might be inclined to feel a little panicky. And although everyone should have a plan in place if you need to go to a hospital or immediate medical clinic, seniors with urgent medical needs (and their caregivers, if applicable) may need to put in a bit more preparation to get the most out of their treatment. Before you head to the emergency room or an urgent care facility near you, here's what you should know and bring along with you.
Have all medical and insurance information on-hand. This is important for any patient, but it's particularly so for seniors. Elderly patients are more likely to be taking different medications and have specific types of insurance coverage. The quicker you can provide accurate information for staff, the quicker diagnosis and treatment can follow. You may even want to consider putting your medical history, physician information, and allergies in writing (along with your medications and doses). You can keep this information in your wallet or handbag, or even take a photo of it to save on your mobile device. This will ensure that you won't have to waste time filling out a form or struggling to remember exactly which medications you're taking.
Anticipate a wait (or even admission). Although urgent medical clinics often have shorter wait times than emergency departments, you may still be in for a bit of delay (depending on the day or time). And if you go to the ER, keep in mind that emergency department visits have increased by 22% over the last decade. More people waiting to be seen means crowded waiting rooms and potentially long stretches of time before you are seen by a physician. Whether you are a patient or are a family member, you may want to bring some reading materials along with you. You may not be able to use your cell phone in an emergency facility, so bring a book or newspaper that can help pass the time and keep your anxiety in check. If you do head to the ER, it's a good idea to bring an extra set of clothes and some must-have personal items in case the staff decides to admit you or your loved one to the hospital.
Don't downplay symptoms. Many people have a tendency to minimize the symptoms they're experiencing. This is common among elderly patients who know they need to go to a medical clinic but don't really want to admit they aren't in the best of health. If you are a senior who's seeking emergency medical attention, remember that these trained professionals won't be able to help you to the best of their abilities if you aren't completely honest with them. There's no reason to feel ashamed about the symptoms you're experiencing; the more upfront you can be with your physician, the better off you'll be. Family members may have to fill in the blanks for medical staff if their loved one is not totally forthcoming or is unable to accurately communicate their symptoms.
When you go to an urgent care center for a non-life-threatening condition or to an ER for more serious ailments, being prepared for your visit will typically pay off. Not only will your stress levels be lower, but you'll be able to receive the highest quality care in either facility.
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