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It’s often hard to know whether we should go to the ER or not. This is especially true when we have a loved one wit chronic health issues. Here are important signs that mean you need to go to the ER now!

!. Signs of a stroke -no matter how mild they seem. These include weakness or paralysis on one side of arms and/or legs. dropping of face to one side. check to see if tongue deviates to one side when she sticks it out. If speech is affected, even if it is only for a short time, have her checked out. This can include slurring, stuttering, not being able to get words out or having the wrong word come out than what they want to say. Time is of the essence with a stroke. Some of the medications needed to treat the stroke can only be given within a certain time frame. It could make the difference between your loved one’s after effects of the stroke. Unless you can get them to the hospital quickly, the ambulance may be wise.

2. Signs of heart attack– symptoms can vary considerably. the pain can be crushing chest pain or it can be pain that radiates from the chest to the jaw and/or down the left arm. It can also include pain that radiates to the back. Women tend to have more variety in the kind of pain/discomfort they have, for a variety of reasons. There may be shortness of breath. Unless you are next door to the hospital, it is wise to call the ambulance because they can have the IV started and have the patient monitored on the way to the hospital.

3. Respiratory distress- any shortness of breath that isn’t their normal should at least be checked out with a call to your doctor and probably a trip to the ER. This is especially true if their color is becoming bluish and you don’t have oxygen available. The ambulance might also be a wise call for that as well. They have oxygen available and can be monitored.

4. Fever or confusion– In elderly people, fever isn’t always as common right away like it is for younger people. Sometimes a fever doesn’t come until a person is becoming septic (when the infection is getting into their bloodstream). So if they are getting unusually confused, check their temp in case they have a fever. If they don’t, call the doctor. Often, a pneumonia or urinary tract infection is brewing. If it is during office hours, they may be ok for you to bring in a urine specimen. They may want to check a blood count. If it is not during office hours, you may need to go to either an ER or urgent care to have those checked along with a chest X-ray. Frequently, confusion is the first symptom unless they are frequently urinating.

5. Severe abdominal pain can often be a sign of a medical emergency as well. There are a variety of things that can be problematic in the abdomen beside the common appendix or gall bladder issues. Some can require surgery. Others don’t. But they need to be checked out and treated.

What do I take with me to the ER?

  1. Photo ID for the patient
  2. Insurance information including medicare and supplemental insurance info if you have it.
  3. List of all medications patient takes- This includes name, dose, frequency as well as vitamin supplements.(I keep these on my phone so they are easy to update and handy when I need them.)
  4. List of allergies and meds patient doesn’t tolerate.

These are the essentials.

This list is mostly for you

Then take along whatever you need to comfortable while you wait.
always take a sweater or wrap of some kind.
your phone & charger,
something to read,
earphones so you can listen to things if you prefer.


“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

Isaiah 43:1b-4a ESV

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