Louise M. Carey

Just Between Caregivers


A Special Bag for Medical Appointments

When our children were young, I had a picnic basket that I kept packed for doctor appointments. In it I had cups, packaged snacks, and special little toys like a kaleidoscope, a View-Master with disks of pictures to insert, felt shapes and a little flannel board, and a miniature blackboard and colored chalk. The pediatrician’s receptionist commented one afternoon on how well-behaved my children were. They were calm and content because their needs were being met—thanks to the basket.

Similarly, having a special bag packed and ready for medical appointments or emergency room visits can make the experience much more pleasant for an Alzheimer’s patient and the caregiver.

The bag should include—

  1. A sweater. Feeling cold in an air-conditioned office makes the dementia patient eager to leave.
  2. A snack that the patient likes and can easily eat; low blood sugar creates anxiety.
  3. A plastic cup. Paper cones at water fountains and water bottles are sometimes difficult for the dementia patient to manage.
  4. Entertainment. A large-print Reader’s Digest was adequate entertainment for Art. My friend packed colorful kerchiefs, because her mother liked to fold and unfold things.
  5. An envelope-type folderor a folder with pockets to hold lab requests and prescriptions that the doctor might give. The folder should always have—
    • A current list of the patient’s medications. Be sure to include dosage and frequency.
    • The patient’s Medicare and insurance cards.

Taken from The Hedge People, p. 56.

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