On a Friday night, while at University, I always remember my mom telling me to put a $20 in my sock for cab fare home from the club —just in case. Early on in my life, this was the idea of being prepared in an emergency.


My next experience to prepare for in advance was when I was expecting my first child. My husband thought I was nuts, packing my tote bag and leaving it by the front door. Then he got the call! Frantically he said “What do I need to bring for you?” With a smirk, that I am sure he could hear over the phone, I said “Grab the tote”, it has everything we need.


Now, over the years of experiencing the chaos of a hospital’s ER with my mom, and accompanying her to her various doctor’s appointments, it occurred to me that it would be handy to have her “just in case tote” packed and ready for an emergency or a regular check-up.

The contents of the tote are not as mysterious as the depths of what I can manage to squeeze into my purse!


In the tote, is a simple chart that has:

Now the physical stuff that I keep in the tote: wipes, a medi-pad (if necessary), a bottled water and a couple of protein bars. Also, in the tote should be any medication that the patient needs which is time sensitive. The last appointment that my mom had to see the cardiologist took three hours! Within that time, I had to help toilet her which was unexpected and the medi-pad came in handy. Also, as we approached lunch time and she was still sitting there waiting to be called, she started to feel hungry. Out comes the protein bar and the bottled water. We were now good to wait for another 1.5 hours!

Once called into the examination room, the first thing that the cardiologist asked mom for was an update on her medications. This always seems to cause an issue. Most clients can tell you what ailment they have (high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.) but not specifically what medication they are taking as a result. I pulled out the up-to-date chart and handed it to mom (it is in 14pt font as this is easier to read as our vision changes.) I asked mom if it looked accurate, once she reviewed it and said yes, she handed it to the doctor. You may wonder why I wouldn’t just hand it directly to him? I am a firm believer in empowering our parents. I am with my mom as advocate, a second set of ears, and the driver! I am not the patient and I don’t want the doctor talking to me as opposed to my mom. Feeling diminished control is never helpful for our loved ones.


Twitter handle: @NeelaWhiteRWAM

Neela White is an portfolio manager with 3Macs, a division of Raymond James Ltd. She holds a degree in gerontology from McMaster University and is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA) and an Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC). The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only. Raymond James Ltd., member — Canadian Investor Protection Fund.