My Crisis Action Plan

Posted on February 15, 2013


Planning ahead can make all the difference.

This is not the time to realize you forgot something. Planing ahead makes sense.

The moment a crisis strikes stress levels rise and our minds start functioning in ways that don’t always allow for the best decisions to be made.  Police and military practice and drill because when they get into high stress situations they know they need to react without having to think through the action steps, they need to respond with their training.

We can do the same type of thing, planning ahead for times of crisis by thinking ahead, answering questions and gathering data we will need ahead of time.  Use this as a guide, print it and take notes.  Put all the information together in a place you will easily remember – knowing that your mind will not function well when that crisis hits.

Here is an example of what can be missed if we wait.  Many times people don’t think to investigate what will happen after the initial crisis is passed.  When Mom or Dad goes into the hospital and is not getting out what will you do if they can’t stay home alone?  Have you investigated companies ahead of time and know what your options are?  Having a caregiver in your home is a big deal to anyone, now compound the situation with someone who is sick, feeling vulnerable and may be on powerful drugs.  Knowing who you want to take care of your family before you find yourself in crisis mode is a good decision.

My Crisis Action Plan

Here is what works for me when I need to calm down my emotional reactions:  I need to do these things.

What will I need to do or to pack before I run out the door?

Who will I need to call and what are their numbers?

Think of doctors, paramedics, hospital or nurse helpline, insurance company, family, friends, in-home health care, hospice nurse, palliative care team, suicide hotline, etc. Once you have gotten to the emergency room and the person is being cared for, your first job is to call the insurance company and let them know what is happening so you don’t end up owing more money than you should.

Person Company Phone Number

Who could come over and be with me right away?

Who can I call for respite care?

  • Being in a hospital with a patient 24×7 can be physically and emotionally draining.  Most hospitals don’t have staff that can guarantee a patient will get help with issues like bathroom visits within a time frame that meets the needs every individual.  Companies like BrightStar provide this type of sitting service while the patient is in the hospital.  This minimizes the risk of falls and can make for a much more pleasant hospital stay.  If the patient suffers from dementia this can help maximize patient safety.  Knowing who you are going to call before hand will make your life easier.

Who can give me emotional support on the phone?

Who do I need to call to let them know what is happening?

Who can I call to help me figure out what is the right thing to do?

Who can I call to help me do some research on the internet?

While I am waiting for the ambulance, the doctor, or for help; I can decide what questions I will need to ask and what I will need to tell the professionals about what has happened.


What is important for me to tell them about my loved one’s condition and healthcare preferences?


Information to have ready (Use the back of this sheet for your notes)

  1. Attach copies of the person’s advance healthcare directive, living will, durable power of attorney for healthcare, and/or other legal documents.
  2. Bring “List of Questions to Ask When Making the Medical Decisions
  3. Attach information about the person’s medical history
    • Ask the primary care doctor for a copy of the person’s history and physical. Staple this information to this worksheet.
  4. Bring “List of Medications,” including any vitamins and herbs. Bring the actual bottles with you.
    • You will need to update this each time there are changes in the medications. Staple this information to this worksheet

10 Quick Tips for Crisis Decision Making

Do something to help yourself calm down. Breathe.

  1. Ask how long you really have to make the decision.
  2. Get the facts. Have someone do some research for you if you aren’t near a computer.
  3. Ask about other options.
  4. Ask what would happen if you chose these other options.
  5. Ask about the positive and negative consequences of each of the possible choices.
  6. Ask about the short-term and long-term consequences of each choice.
  7. Have someone else help you listen to what is being said and to take notes and/or record it.
    • If nobody can be there with you, have the person call in and listen to the conversation over the phone.
  8. Make the decision realizing that you are doing the best you can in this crisis situation.
  9. After the crisis is over, think about whether you will need to modify or improve the plan.
  10. Now that the crisis is over, get yourself some support. You just went through a lot.
It is a good idea to keep a notebook of all the people you contact. The more organized you are, the easier your job will be.
Need help paying for care?  Give BrightStar in Houston a call at 832-730-1255 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 832-730-1255 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting  for ideas you may not have thought of and resources to consider.  Get more ideas on care giving on Caregiver Junction.

If one of the care recipients is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran check out our series on Veterans Benefits for those over 65:

Monetary assistance with in-home care for veterans

VA benefits for veterans over 65: Basic Pension

VA benefits for veterans over the age of 65: Housebound Pension and Aid and Attendance Pension

BrightStar in-home care is a care solution that can help seniors satisfy their preference to stay in their home, but not all in-home care is the same.  Did you know you can augment care in medical facilities?  We work with families to provide the best in care for the elderly at home, in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.  Our caregivers can move from home to facility and back again, providing the continuity of care.

We also care for kids and adults who need anything from companion care to skilled nursing care.