You’ve probably heard this aphorism at least once in your life: “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.” In the case of emergencies, this is doubly true. As you get older, you’re more likely to experience a medical emergency and require a visit to a hospital. If you have hearing loss, communication can be more difficult, so planning ahead is important and will keep you on task in the case of an actual emergency.
Have a bag ready to go
Have a “hospital-ready” bag that’s packed and prepped to go in case you need to rush out one day. Everyone’s bag is different, but they should all contain the following things:
- Copy of insurance card
- Extra hearing aid batteries
- Spare eyeglasses (if needed)
- Water bottle
- List of your current medications
- Cell phone charger
- Message about your hearing loss
If you have other hearing aid supplies, like a dry box, consider keeping it in there as well. If you live with another person, make sure they are up to date on your medications, and you’re up to date on theirs.
We also feel it’s crucial to have some written paperwork about your hearing loss. If your hearing loss is severe enough that you cannot easily communicate with hospital staff, bring a notebook and pen so you’ll be able to write messages to them. Also, keep a little note in your bag that you can hand to hospital staff informing them of the severity of your hearing loss.
Make a plan with family/friends
It’s not an easy thing to talk about, but it’s important you have close family members or friends prepared in case you need to go the hospital for any reason. If you have a spouse or children, discuss with them what help you might need if you’re in the hospital. If you don’t have close family members, find a trusted friend or two that you can rely on. Things you should discuss include:
- All medications you’re currently taking
- Medical history, including history of falls
- Personal information (address, date of birth, telephone number) in case you cannot communicate this to staff
- Insurance information
- Who can/will come with you to the hospital
- Who can/will take notes and communicate with doctors/nurses
We know these conversations can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re discussing them with your children. However, preparing ahead of time will make everything run more smoothly in case you do have to go to a hospital. It’s important that everyone knows their role and what’s expected of them in case of emergency. If everyone is prepared, your hospital stay will be much less stressful and much easier!