Caregivers, Seniors’ Safety is In Your Hands

This week we celebrate National Patient Safety.  As seniors and those that care for seniors, we are always worried about safety.  We worry our homes are safe, we worry about our seniors driving, we worry about our seniors falling and we worry about our seniors eating right.

We also worry about what could happen to our seniors when they enter the healthcare system whether it is just seeing the doctor, taking medications correctly or going into the hospital.

Safety Tips

The government has given us all some tips that might ease our minds.  As we think about healthcare safety this week, let us review these helpful tips.

  1. Whenever you are involved in healthcare, ask questions and understand the answers.  Feel comfortable talking with your doctor, nurse, caregiver, case manager or pharmacist.  Take someone with you to help you remember the directions and the answers and also to ask questions for you.  If you don’t understand, ask questions until you do.  Your health and well-being are at stake.
  2. If you have to be hospitalized, talk with your doctor about which facility will meet your needs the best.  Do you need a specialist or special equipment? There may be more than one option in your area and you should understand your choices before you go.  While you are there, be sure you or your caregiver understand the paperwork you are asked to sign.  Ask questions if you don’t.  When it is time to leave, be sure you understand all the instructions for your home care before you leave. What medications do you need, will you need special equipment at home, how often do you need to change the bandages and can they get wet in the shower are just a few of the things you need to get clear information about to succeed at home.
  3. Keep a list of all the medications you take, the name and dosages and what time you take them each day.  Bring this with you to doctor’s appointments, the drug store and to the hospital so everyone who cares for you knows what medicine you currently take.  Don’t forget to include over the counter medicines or vitamin supplements including herbal products.  Alert your healthcare provider if you have any allergies! Give these healthcare providers a copy for their records so they can prevent potential interactions.  When you pick up new medications, look at them carefully to be sure they are what the doctor ordered.  Ask the pharmacist if you have any questions about how to take your medicine correctly.  Be aware of any warnings on the label.
  4. If you have any procedures or tests, be sure you understand the directions for what to do before and after the tests.  Get your test results and ask about them if you don’t understand.  If you don’t hear from your healthcare provider after a test, don’t assume there is nothing wrong.  Call the office and ask for your results.  Be sure you understand what the results mean for your care and treatment.
  5. If you need surgery, be sure you clearly understand what it involves.  Talk directly with the surgeon to be sure you both have the same information about the procedure and your expected recovery.  Ask how long it will take and how you will expect to feel afterward.  Be sure everyone involved is aware of your allergies and medications.

You and your loved ones are in control of your safety.  Be educated and aware of your rights and responsibilities when you interact with the healthcare system to stay safe.