Managing medical records for a senior parent

Medical insurance is tricky these days. Seniors often have it harder than others, due to changes in Medicare, Medicaid and insurance laws. Keeping records straight can be challenging even for the tidiest record keepers. If some emergency situation were to happen to your elderly parent today, would you have the information you need?

When your parent sees a doctor, you want to make the most of the time they spend in the office. By having important documents and data at your fingertips, you can make a trip to the doctor much less stressful for you and your parent.

To get started, you will need a few supplies. Many seniors are not part of the digital age, so keep it old school. A calendar and a three-ring binder with dividers will be necessary. If the dividers have pockets that is even better. Gather up all of your health insurance-related correspondence, medical bills, business cards and anything else that is applicable.

Begin by writing all of the doctors’ names, phone numbers, fax numbers and addresses in the binder. Write what their specialty is next to their name, along with the names of helpful receptionists, secretaries, nurses or physician assistants. Keep all of the medical appointments written in one calendar. Add everything, even if you have appointment cards.

Write down all of the medications that your parent is taking and the dosage. This is a question that is always asked, and should be kept close at hand. Include which doctor prescribed each medication, the name of the pharmacy used along with their phone number. If prescriptions are filled at more than one location, it is best to move everything to one pharmacy. There are pharmacies with free delivery – find one – or call Northern Pharmacy and Medical Equipment Company. Dietary supplements and vitamins should also be listed as they can sometimes cause drug interactions.

Use the binder to log any phone calls made to doctors as a reference. By having everything in one location, the information will be much easier to track down when needed.

Keep a list of any questions you have for the doctor. Sometimes, when you are in the office, you may forget what you want to ask. Later, after the appointment, it can be stressful to get the doctor on the phone. It is much easier to be prepared ahead of time and take your questions with you.

Add all insurance paperwork to the binder, including any EOB (explanation of benefits) forms. Bills can be sorted in the pockets of the binder as well. Photocopy any insurance cards to serve as a backup.

Some tests, such as MRIs, can be copied onto DVDs. X-rays or other test results can be obtained. There may be a charge to get these, but it might be worth keeping a copy for reference.

However you keep them, these records should be portable. You can carry the binder and file to the doctor’s office when you take your parent for their appointment. Then, everything is right in front of you if the doctor has any questions.

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