Summer is over and it\’s back-to-school time for your kids. If you\’re like most parents, you spent a lot of August preparing for the new school year. You bought school supplies, clothes, planned after school activities, and made after school childcare arrangements. And I\’ll bet you also made plans in case of an emergency and back-up emergency plans a mile long! Obviously you have these back-up plans so that, when there\’s a need, everyone knows what to do, no time is wasted, and no one has to panic.

But what about your aging loved ones? If you\’re a family member with an aging loved one or a Caregiver, you know that emergencies can come at any time from anywhere for them, too. Have you made emergency arrangements for them?

When there\’s an emergency, the first call is usually to the daughter or another family member. But what if you\’re at work and the best you can do is be there in 30 minutes or more? Some families have gotten their aging loved one an emergency call button for just such emergencies. Emergency call buttons are a very valuable tool. But the question is what happens after the call is made or the button is pushed?

That\’s the part that\’s missing in most plans – and the most critical part . . . the process you and your aging loved one set up together for what happens after the call to you is made or the button is pushed.

Rather than scrambling and hoping for the best, or worse yet, panicking, I recommend you create a list of people or entities (a neighbor, someone from the senior center, the police or fire department, or EMS, for example) to whom you can give information about your aging loved one and will be able to respond immediately.

As you make this list, it\’s possible that your aging loved one will dispute one or more of the people or entities on the list. S/he may say s/he would be too embarrassed to have a neighbor or someone s/he knows come in. If that happens, explain calmly that we need a list of at least 5 names/entities. Let them know that this is the list for now but if they would rather not have one or all of the names on the list, that\’s fine – all they have to do is come up with replacements. But stand firm that this will be the working list until they do.

Remember, the best way to save yourself some Grief and guilt later on is to plan and prepare now – especially if you live or work some distance away. It\’s easier to know what to do and what to say if you\’ve planned it and discussed it in advance. What if you\’ve already had an emergency? Well . . . as the saying goes: When is the best time to plant a tree? Fifty years ago. When is the 2nd best time? Now!

© Copyright AgeWiseLivingTM 2001-2007 You can find information about Generational Coaching, AgeWiseLivingTM seminars and free teleseminars, and to sign up for Barbara\’s free monthly newsletter at or by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country\’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University, where she created and teaches “Seniors Housing Management” at Cornell\’s School of Hotel Administration.

Barbara Friesner is the country's leading Generational Coach and an expert on issues affecting Seniors and their families. She has been interviewed for Advising Boomers magazine, featured on NY1 TV's Focus on Seniors and Coping with Caregiving on wsRadio. She has also been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country and her articles have been published in the CAPSule, the Children of Aging Parent's newsletter.