Apr 172012

Elderly parents often have numerous medications and an lengthy medical history. Thank goodness for computers! They make it so much easier to keep your parent’s medical information up to date and thanks to printers you can print multiple copies and take them with you. I can tell you firsthand how nice it is when I take my mom to the doctor or hospital and I just hand over the paper with everything neatly typed and organized. Believe me they are appreciative and plus they can devote more time to treating my mom instead of having to transcribe a long list of medical information.

Your health care professional needs to know your parent’s medical history, their medications and allergies. Below you will find an easy format you can copy. But first I would like to clear up a couple of concerns many people have.

Recreational drug users are often disinclined to share their drug use with the health care provider. (Yes, the elderly use drugs illegally and for recreational purposes too). You need to know that some of those drugs can interfere with or enhance other medications and we do not want to give your parent something that is going to have a severe reaction with those drugs. So please, just tell us. We are not the police and we will not report anyone to the police. What you say is protected by HIPPA and patient confidentiality. You can also request that information not be entered into their medial record.

The other area people keep secret is how much alcohol they drink. We can prevent delirium tremens also known as DT’s as well as avoid putting someone in a comma, completely frying their liver and a whole host of other complications if we know how much they really drink.

If you are honest with no one else in your life, please be honest with the people who literally hold your parent’s life in their hands. We might suggest they seek treatment or tell them the dangers just as we do with smokers and people who are overweight but we can also work with you and them to help them be as healthy as possible.

Like the 89 year old lady I had, that drank a pint of whiskey a day. She had been doing this for years and she informed me she had no intention of stopping. She knew the dangers so I just suggested some vitamin supplements and a few dietary changes along with a warning about using acetaminophen.

When listing your or a loved one’s medical information, put the patient’s name and date of birth at the top of the page. This is all the identifying information needed.

When listing allergies include food allergies and what the type of reaction occurs: Codeine – nausea and vomiting, Sulfa – itching, Bee stings – throat swells closed, Demerol – hallucinations, strawberries – rash. (Allergies can be underlined or written in bold or red as a good method to draw attention to them.)

Now hallucinations are not an allergic reaction but rather an unfortunate side effect of some medications. This is the reason we medical professionals always ask what kind of reaction you have to a medication. The reaction might be mild enough that we can still give you the medicine and treat the reaction. Or a simple dosage adjustment might prevent the side effects.

When listing medications, include strength, how often it is taken, when it is taken and what condition it is for:

Remember to include over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen even though you only take them occasionally. Vitamins and herbal supplements should also be listed. Some vitamins are stored in your fat and can build to toxic levels, some herbs interact with medications or should only be used for a short time.

A brief medical history, with dates if known, is also helpful.

The finished product would look something like this:

Jacob Jones DOB: 09/05/38

Allergies: Codeine – nausea and vomiting, Sulfa – itching, Bee stings – throat swells closed, Demerol – hallucinations.


Medication Dosage Amount Time Reason
Aspirin 81 mg One Every Morn Heart Attack
Vasotec 10 mg One Every Morn Blood Pressure
Zoloft 50 mg One Every Morn Depression
Glucophage 500 mg One Morn and Eve Diabetes
Multivitamin None One Every Morn Supplement
Tylenol 325 mg Two As Needed Pain
Actonel 32 mg One Wednesday Osteoporosis

Medical History:

Tonsillectomy and appendectomy as a child
Hernia repair 1999
Heart attack 2001
Hypertension X 5 years
Depression 2001
Diabetes X 6 years
Osteoporosis 2004

All on one page, two max. Makes life so much easier!


  19 Responses to “You Parent’s Medical Records”

  1. Such a good idea. When my father was in an assisted living facility, they has us print out something like this and put it by the fuse box. Every resident did this and it was there for EMT’s to grab in an emergency. I also get a print out like this from my doctor every time I visit now….and I put it in my purse and leave it there. I throw the old one away.
    Sonya Lenzo

  2. HI Suzanne:
    Keeping the medical records is something I never think of even for myself… I will have to take care of that!
    Very funny the 89 year old lady! ( maybe not for her family though)

    Elimina la Ansiedad

  3. Suzanne,
    medical records are important. i look at those from tax preparation point of view and think about medical expenses. Thank you for the reminder to keep those.

    Do we say more than we think?

  4. Great tips for being prepared and organized. People sometimes forget that leaving something out could negatively affect treatment.
    Leadership is a Choice

  5. Great advice … Dr. frequently prescribe conflicting meds … I rely on my Pharmacist more than and drug salesperson influenced Doctor.


  6. Well said. I’ve lost count of the number of elderly patients who have come through the ED; when asked what medications they were on , they LITERALLY hand the MD a bag fu;; of bottles. They have no idea why they take what they take-they only know that somewhere, sometime a doctor told them to.

    Good advice to be aware of


    Be Well.

  7. I had no idea that something as simple as drinking, or lying about it could have such a profound effect on your health.

    Sales Expert

  8. Outstanding advice on keeping the medical records up to date with medications being taken and why they are being taken. The example you provided was perfect.

    Thorne Smith Ebooks

  9. What are your thoughts on “Medical Alert Bracelets”?

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II

  10. Great advice. Doctors can help their patients better when they have the full story. Putting it together the first time may take time but after that updating should be a breeze.

    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy

  11. That chart is exremely helpful! It would help anyone actually, not just the elderly. I am allergic to many antibiotics and my doctor told me I should attach a card to my driveer’s license with my drug allergies listed. I might actually do that now.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
    Fat Burning Home Workouts

  12. Hi Suzanne,

    This is just great advice for anyone taking any kind of medication. A brief medical history should be kept on every person because no one ever knows when something may happen … this way, the information is readily available.

    Stay Amazing, Neil

  13. Good advice about keeping medical records. I would have never associated recreational drug use and the elderly…but I guess it makes sense. :)

    Cherie Miranda
    Meditation for Happiness

  14. Suzanne, this is such an excellent post! It is SO useful, and I would never have thought of it.

    Save Money, Save Water – great Eco-Friendly Tips –

  15. The 89 year old lady that drinks a pint of whiskey a day – perhaps she is Keith Richards mother? ;>)

  16. Wow! Eye Opening!

    I would guess that all this government involvement with privacy… no one knows what is really going on… to much dis information out there… At the same time the government could change the rules about privacy on a whim and have your entire “private history revealed… And of course use it agasinst you in circumstances where you are trying to qualify for some form of assistance or another.

    the trust level of our society must be at an all time low.

    Again me posting a not directly related topic… my apologies!

    Musician Profit Systems

  17. Hi Suzanne,
    Simply great infomation!
    My Dad wasn’t on any medication until he was in 24/7 nursing care.
    You make it so easy to care for a parent.
    Looking forward to tomorrow!

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