It’s a good idea to have a “hospital bag” packed and ready in case of an emergency. You will likely not know if an unexpected hospital stay will last hours or days, so it’s best to be well prepared. Here is a list of items that you may want to include:
1. Change of clothing for both patient and caregivers
2. You never know what the ambient temperature will be in the hospital, or if you're going to be pulling an overnighter. Dress in layers in something comfortable enough to sleep in (in a chair, if necessary) and still look presentable in the morning. Also, a nice thick heavy sweater, which can be carried around in a tote bag with the rest of your stuff, could totally come in handy as a pillow, a blanket, or--what do you know?? A sweater.
3. Extra socks and undergarments
4. Pajamas and slippers for caregivers (or see number two if you don't want to walk around the floor in your pj's.)
5. Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, dry shampoo, hairbrush, deodorant, feminine supplies
6. Cash – including change for vending machines
1. List of all current medications (or you can just scoop 'em all off the shelf and bring 'em, which is what I do...but then be mindful, they could get lost!)
2. List of all medication and food allergies your patient has.
3. Names and contact information for PCP, Oncologist, Hospice, and any other health care professionals involved in patient’s care
4. DNR form if applicable*
5. Power of attorney/health care proxy form
6. Contact list of relatives, friends, office, housesitter, petsitter. A great idea here is to get one of those little all-in-one day planners that has its own little address book in the back of it that can be slipped out and put into the next year's day planner. Always have this in your purse or briefcase. I am never at a loss for a phone number I need with this thing, and it doesn't depend on phone batteries.
These are items you probably can’t pre-pack, but don’t want to forget:
1. Cell phone
2. Cell phone charger
3. Eyeglasses/contact lenses
4. Caregiver’s medications
6. Insurance Card
And some optional items:
1. Laptop (and perhaps some movies to watch on it--was a great thing in the hospital for my husband, who had lost the ability to read. Sometimes what's on TV is crap.)
4. If this is a first hospital visit and your loved one has a bank account you may need access to but it's in their name, have them sign a few checks for you in case you need to pay bills for them, need money from their account in an emergency, etc. Of course keep these in a VERY safe place. But in the event that your person is unable to read, sign anything, or communicate, and it's sudden and you don't have POA, this may help you out in a pinch!
*We learned through experience that if you call an ambulance, unless you have a copy of DNR in hand, EMTs may provide support against the patient/family’s wishes.
*Thanks to Vanessa Waltz for this helpful list!