emergency planning for patients with mental disorders

Emergency Planning For Patients With Mental Disorders

The term “mental disorders” covers a vast gamut of problems, all with their own levels of severity and treatment methods. This is why it’s crucial for patients, family members and caregivers to have emergency plans that cover all possible emergency scenarios.

In this article, a person named “Joe” is used to help explore the available emergency options, because life is guaranteed to be unpredictable.

About Joe

Joe has depression, anxiety and a slow onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In this first scenario, he lives alone but has family and friends who visit and call him regularly. Joe takes specific medications to keep him “stable”, and they work fine most of the time.

However, mental disorders can be triggered by almost anything. What if Joe forgets who he is? To plan for this possibility, he should wear emergency medical identification. This could be in the form of a necklace, bracelet or watch. He would also be wise to carry a list of ailments, medications, personal information and contacts in his wallet.

If he forgot who he was and somebody found him wandering around, they might look for his emergency ID or search through his wallet, where they would see the sheet of paper and make contact with somebody who could help him.

If he was out and couldn’t remember how to get home, what happens next would depend on whether he remembered who he was or if he remembered his wallet list or medical ID. If neither of these were possible, he would have to rely on help from strangers. With some luck, they would find his wallet list and/or medical ID and contact somebody for him.


Joe is on quite a few different medications, taken at various times throughout the day. It can be hard to keep track of everything, and fill prescriptions before he runs out. Running out of medications or forgetting to take them is not an option.

Joe should make friends with the people working at the local pharmacy. The pharmacist can then prepare small packs, which have the day’s medications in them (morning, lunch, dinner, etc). By doing so, Joe will make his life easier by reducing the stress on his mind.

Joe must keep his medications in a very obvious place at home. A good place is the kitchen, where he prepares his daily meals, so he is reminded to take the needed medication each time he eats.

Other support

Joe may not be living alone. He may be living with a partner, family or friends. In these cases, a household member should learn what to do in an emergency. Joe should give copies of his list to everyone who needs them and also stick a copy on the fridge, because that is a very prominent place. This list should also contain the phone numbers of his doctor and specialists, so they can be contacted if emergency help is needed.

Joe’s support team should also attend his medical appointments, to learn how they can best help him when needed.

Mental disorders are very serious, even though they are usually invisible problems until something happens. The best way to help Joe is to plan for every possible problem, and then to minimize situations where emergencies may occur.

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