Vail Daily column: Red Binder System promotes healthy living |

Vail Daily column: Red Binder System promotes healthy living

Before I start talking about Eagle County’s development of Red Binder System, I want to take a moment to inform everyone about an event taking place Wednesday at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. Starting Hearts, a local nonprofit dedicated to addressing cardiac health and saving lives, is hosting the fifth annual All You Need is Heart Health Expo.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center and author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” will speak about diet and heart health. His diet regimen saved the lives of every one of his 24-person study. Esselstyn will begin speaking at 12:30 p.m. and finish up with a Q&A at 2 p.m. Advanced ticket sales are available for $39 at (enter “HEART” as a promotional code for $10 discount). At the Vilar box office, tickets are $49.

I hope to see you there. This could be life changing.

The Red Binder Goal

Assisting elderly family and friends suffering from cognitive decline, cancer and other health concerns can be a tough job. For many people this is a labor of love that is honorable and often rewarding. However, it can be organizationally and emotionally challenging.

Keeping track of a loved one’s insurance information, medical history, doctor appointments, medications, changes in medications and emergency information can be daunting. This is why Eagle County Public Health, along with community members and partners, formed the Aging Well Initiative.

One of the initiative’s teams, the Healthcare Action Team, chose to focus their efforts on encouraging accountability and education amongst older adult patients. They subsequently created the medical Red Binder System, an organization system that promotes health literacy, self-advocacy and engagement in one’s health care. These binders are designed to be a central medical documentation system, used in both emergency situations and at visits to medical providers.

The Red Binders contain the following forms and resources:

• Emergency Medical Information Sheet.

• Medication list.

• Advance Directives Information Sheet.

• Advance Directives Options: The Colorado MOST Form and 5 Wishes Form are two options included for review and decision.

• Personal Healthcare Record forms.

• Letter to health care providers explaining the system.

Red Binders promotes self-advocacy

As I mentioned in last week’s article, appointment amnesia is all too common among people of any age. To the tune of an estimated 60 percent, people of all ages often misconstrue conversations while at medical appointments. For this reason, the Aging Well Initiative developed the Red Binder.

While the Red Binder was developed as a tool for our county’s older adults to age in place with the highest possible quality of life, the information it contains and methodology it teaches for detailing conversations and information provided while at medical appointments can assist people of any age. It is a simple tool meant to help people gather important information and organize their time so they can care for themselves and their loved ones efficiently and smoothly.

The Red Binders are also a valuable tool for medical providers as they provide a succinct and detailed history of a patient’s medical history, medications, and list of concerns and questions. They may also benefit by having detailed listing of the names and types of other medical providers involved in the patient’s care.

While medical providers can usually request medical information from other doctors by making written requests and/or making telephone calls, it often takes time. When patients are able to bring key information along with them, an office visit can be much more productive

Through the use of the Red Binder System, older adults are educated and empowered to understand their medical needs and care plans, and ultimately improve their outcomes. Red Binders are available for Eagle County residents at their local libraries (Avon, Eagle and Gypsum), senior centers (Minturn and Eagle) and online at

Please direct any questions on the Red Binder System to Pat Nolan at 970-328-8831 or

The major role of this binder is to help patients and medical providers maintain an ongoing record of an individual’s health care history and current medical status. When utilizing this tool, all persons involved in the health care system increase the effectiveness of the medical appointment and promote better health advocacy.

The binders are free. So why not give them a shot? Take this opportunity to be proactive in bettering your health care.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to or call 970-328-5526.