My dad was diagnosed with a chronic health condition last spring. It’s a fairly complex illness with multiple physicians involved in his care. Because his condition came on suddenly, I never had an opportunity to come up with a system for organizing his medical calendar and onslaught of paperwork.
While I’m more of a technology person, my dad isn’t. He wants a system he can use instead of an online platform or app. Maybe it’s because our stacks of paper are so high, but the task feels daunting. Do you have any suggestions for organizing his health information?
Dana in Saginaw, MI
Keeping a Senior’s Medical Information Organized
I understand your predicament! Keeping up with all the information health care providers pass along can be challenging. And the calendar can be equally difficult when a loved one has a variety of physicians on his care team. The key is to create a system that is easy to maintain and update. That will make you more likely to use it. These tips will help you get started.
Begin by sorting all your dad’s medical information by topic or category. Then place it all in a binder you take with you to appointments. Getting organized will make your role of family caregiver easier. A few suggested categories to include in your file are:
- Calendar: It’s convenient to store appointments in an app. It lets you set reminders and quickly view your dad’s schedule when you need to make physician appointments. But having a physical calendar as a back-up is important, too. It’s also easier to plan your entire week when you can quickly glance at all your dad’s appointments.
- Medical history: This broad category is a good place to include your dad’s visit notes from medical appointments, hospital discharge orders, and any health summaries a physician may have provided. It might also help to keep a chronological list of milestones in his diagnosis and treatment.
- Test results: While health care systems use electronic medical records, not all systems interact with one another. For older adults like your dad, who see multiple physicians, keeping hard copies of test results is a good idea. That makes it easier to share among his doctors during visits.
- Family medical history: When seeing a new patient for the first time, providers ask them to review their family medical history. This information helps physicians assess a patient’s predisposition for hereditary conditions. Having this information typed and saved on your computer makes it easy to update and print when you need to make changes.
- Medication list: At every medical appointment, you’ll likely be asked if your dad has started or changed any medications since his last visit. Create a list that includes medication name, dosage information, and the prescribing physician. Remember to include over-the-counter medications, too, as they can impact the effectiveness of prescriptions.
- Physician contact information: Create a list with your dad’s current and past physicians. Include contact information, such as office addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and fax numbers.
Make sure to create backup copies to store in a safe, secure location.
Finally, if you would like to utilize an app to make your role of caregiver easier, consider Healthspek. Apps like these are often a good solution for families, especially where multiple siblings are involved in care.
Good luck getting organized, Dana! I’m sure you’ll be happy you made time to do this.
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