Resources and assistance available for those who expect to care for aging parents

A call in the middle of the night that Mom had a bad fall or Dad accidentally overdosed on his meds can strike terror in the hearts of family caregivers. It could happen at any time, often because seniors take multiple prescription medications.

Home Instead Senior Care®, a leading provider of home care services for seniors, has put together valuable resources and tips to help families prepare for unexpected senior emergencies.

The public education program called Answering the Call stems from the organization’s study that shows how adult children who expect to provide care for their senior parents are ill-prepared.

According to the study, many adult sons and daughters don’t have the information they need, should an emergency call come, and their senior mother or father needs help. Home Instead’s Caring for Your Parents: Senior Emergency KitSM is a health information organizer to help family caregivers assemble one master file of information should an emergency arise.

Names of a senior’s doctors, pharmacy and insurance company phone numbers, medications and dosage details and allergies are important information to have on hand.

The resources available in the Senior Emergency Kit include:

•  A checklist of things to have in your Senior Emergency Kit
•  Emergency Family and Medical Contact Information
•  Medication Tracker
•  Allergies, Conditions and related Medications sheet
•  Worksheet for each doctor’s visit
•  Community resources

“People are not aware of what medications their senior parents are taking and what services are available to them,” says Pronica Janikowsky, Practice Development Coordinator of the Canadian Society of Consultant Pharmacists (CSCP).

“They often don’t find out until they’re in the middle of a crisis. They should be proactive and check what their parents are taking before a crisis happens. This is why seniors need a friend, a family caregiver or a professional caregiver to look out for them. They need an advocate who goes with them to the doctor to make sure that any changes in medications are followed correctly.”

Home Instead Senior Care’s® Senior Emergency Kit can help older adults and their families track medications in order to prevent problems. For example, some common types of medication-related problems are:

1. Untreated medical conditions
2. Drug use without direction
3. Improper drug selection
4. Lower dosage than required
5. Overdosage
6. Adverse drug reactions
7. Drug interactions
8. Not taking medication when required

Janikowski says that, in addition to prescription drugs, many seniors take herbal remedies, over-the-counter laxatives, and pain medications “which are squirreled away in the cupboard,” and their children have no idea about it.

She is one of 232 pharmacists in Canada who have the designation of Geriatric Pharmacist. A pharmacist for over 30 years, she is the education representative of the CSCP, represents the CSCP on the steering committee for the Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health, and was on the committee that developed the Canadian national guidelines for treatment of depression in the elderly.

You can find copies of all the resource materials listed above on the Answering the Call website at or, contact one of Home Instead Senior Care’s 29 locations across Canada.

In addition, you can view additional caregiver resources or find out more about our services by visiting us on the Web at and