July 2019

College Students Off to School:  More to Think About

By Ilene Corina

This summer many families will be planning to send their children off to college.  Though they won’t be living alone, there are probably many things they — and we as parents — have taken for granted.  One of them is preparing for illness or accident.  This is not about insurance.  Payment or debt is a clear cut issue, this is about really preparing.

Most people are not taught to become patients, yet it is one of the most important things we may do in our lifetime.  Hearing the words “I need you” from a child is a big responsibility and something many of us love – but fear. Helping your child plan would be a great way to — at the very least — calm any potential fears about not being prepared.

If your children are over eighteen, they should have a person listed on a healthcare proxy.  As a parent, you may be the first choice.  When my son was in a serious car accident half way across the country and I called the hospital, I was told they couldn’t talk to me (which is not true, but many hospital staff mix up privacy and HIPAA).

When he came home, both my adult children filled out healthcare proxies and put them in their wallets.  It allowed us to have a talk about our wishes and expectations, and our conversations went even deeper.

It is important for your children to keep a list of their medications, the amounts they take and what doctors prescribed them, with them. If they take any medications or vitamins, use birth control or need an inhaler for asthma, that should be listed and in a wallet.

Where are their medical records?  Many high school students we have spoken with during our patient education program have said they don’t know their doctor’s name.  They should keep a list of all their doctors, including specialists, with their phone numbers, for fast access to medical records.

They should also know their insurance information including company name, policy number and phone number.

This medical diary form can be helpful in recording the information together.

Today, many people don’t want to carry papers although if you have a wallet, that’s where the information can be kept.  Instead, you can list this information in a cell phone. I recently learned at a PACC program that you can list this information in your phone and even if it’s locked, the emergency personnel can get to it.  Here are instructions for a smartphone:

Go to your Contacts.

Top of the screen should say “In case of Emergency contact” – touch that.

You can add people from your contact list.  Touch the bottom middle circle and then the pencil to add information.

To test it, lock your phone.  Swipe until you see Emergency call.  Press Emergency call and when it opens you will see Emergency information.  Your phone is still locked.

Here is a video to help with an iPhone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEpDVMvOs1g

Learn more about Advance Directives