Coordinating care when you’re a snowbird

Seniors get advice on managing health while away for the winter

couple on the beach blogIf you follow the example of the birds, and move to warmer climates for the winter, it’s important to coordinate your medical care, especially for heart patients.

Documents to add to your packing list

Adding a few documents when packing your bags can help keep track of your health care. Mary Passow, R.N., B.S.N., clinical care coordinator at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, has a few suggestions:

  • List of current medications and dosages
  • List of allergies
  • List of current physicians
  • Emergency bracelet/necklace with any life-threatening medical condition and/or medication they are taking
  • Advance directive/durable power of attorney paperwork for healthcare
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Medicare/insurance cards
  • Document from recent clinic visit – and any cardiac testing that was performed

Other hospitals that use the Epic system for their electronic medical records can electronically share information with the University of Michigan Health – a feature that’s built into all Epic Systems.

Set up a doctor’s appointment before you go

Many patients have homes they go to every year so it’s a good idea to have a physician you can see while away. If they don’t have a doctor in both places, see a physician for a regular check-up just prior to leaving for the winter, says Passow.

Get a flu shot while you’re there

It makes sense to take care of your flu shot, which is recommended every year for all those over age 65, before leaving for the winter, says U-M geriatrician Theodore Suh, M.D. In some years the flu season gets off to an early start or there are vaccine shortages. With 132 million doses distributed this year, there’s enough vaccine for anyone who want it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pneumonia shot is also recommended for older adults.

Sign up for hospital patient portal

You can gain access to your health information by signing up for your hospital patient portal, says Jocelyn Wiggins, M.D., director of the U-M Geriatrics Center. All you need is email and access to a computer, iPad or other mobile device. MyUofMHealth.org is available to University of Michigan patients and allows access to lab results or requesting prescriptions from anywhere in the country. With proxy access, you can let another adult or friend to see your health information.

Take the next steps


U of M Health logoFor more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.