If and when you are in the position to take care of an older loved one, regardless of the relationship, there is medical, logistical and financial information to figure out. It can be so very overwhelming – especially if it is an emergency situation or if the person is impaired in any way and cannot share this information. In my situation, when my Daddy began to need our care, my mother had all of his information and I could turn to her for dates, meds, numbers, etc. I took over the financial matters and became his Power of Attorney. Even having the necessary information provided by my mother, it was completely overwhelming at times. During this time the Husband and I were also forced to care for his step-father. I became his caregiver, advocate, Power of Attorney and whatever else he needed as he had no blood relatives. That situation was especially difficult as he was not really in the frame of mind to provide financial information, passwords, (and he had a million of them!) health and family history information. Finding this information was like finding a needle in a haystack – or a hidden notebook in a stack of old magazines. Literally.
Now that I am making decisions and attempting to care for my mother, I am a little wiser and my mother, thank heavens, is sharp as a tack. She can still relate all the information we need, but I have also made sure I have a handy dandy notebook with any and everything I need. In order to save you some pain and lots of lost time and energy – which is also time away from the loved one – I have come up with a list to help put things in order. Here are some things to think about:
Social Security Number – Where is the Social Security Card?
Date of Birth – Parents’ Names – Mother’s Maiden Name
All Passwords – email, banking, voicemail, computer, etc.
Where is a health insurance policy? Copy of card with number.
Where is a birth certificate?
Power of Attorney for Finances and/or Health?
Where is a safe deposit box? How is it accessed?
Where is a life insurance policy?
***Is there a long-term care insurance policy?***If not, I STRONGLY suggest you attempt to get one if able and consider this for yourself at some point. Home health care AND facility care.
Social Security or Retirement Benefits?
How are bills paid? If online, how to access and any passwords
Where are bank accounts and how to access, passwords, PINS, account numbers and location
Is there a deed to a house, title to a car? – Where are they and in whose name
If the house or car needs to be sold you need the necessary information to do this – or how to transfer title
Homeowners and car insurance? Where are the policies?
Is there a will – where is it kept?
Who are the primary doctors, specialists or others who provide care?
Are there any medications? What are they and the dosage – what pharmacy is used.
If incapacitated physically and/or mentally what are the directives? Living Will?
Is there a burial plot? Where and how is it financed? Funeral arrangements made or preferenced?
I know this is not a fun topic to discuss with your parents or other relatives, but it’s a lot easier to get it out of the way while they are healthy than it is if things go south. In the long run, they will benefit from providing the information. It is my hope you will never need any of the above information, but the reality is that you likely will. If you could have it set out and tucked away just in case. . . I would have more peace of mind.
Are you feeling sandwiched? Have you been a caregiver for an ill or elderly relative? What else should be added to the list? Any other suggestions?