The Most Complete Checklist
I decided to update and combine my September 3 and 9, 2010 checklist with several others, get rid of redundancies, and produce the most comprehensive list I can.
To begin–a must: Know where legal documents are kept: power of attorney, health care proxy, living will and will. I give this no numerical # because having this information will save endless time and frustration as our parents age….it really is a must.
Also know that hospitals, for example, accept faxes of powers of attorney and health care proxies so it’s wise to have copies handy in case of a health emergency. Sr. Advisor RHW, Esq. points out parents, as well as their lawyer, should have these documents, should you not be able to find them.
He further explains that if parents have used a lawyer in a law firm, the firm should have copies of the documents whether or not the lawyer who drew them up is still there. If an individual practicing lawyer (not part of a firm) drew them up and has moved around, s/he and the documents could be harder to locate.
INFORMATION YOU’LL WANT OR NEED:
1. IDENTIFICATION to be kept in one place and up-to-date
–parent’s legal name
–social security number
–PINs, Passwords (computer etc.), grandmother’s maiden name, mother’s maiden name– to communicate with any company that requires them in order to communicate with you (shutting off services, bills, Medicare)
–Legal state of residence (if more than one home)
2. LOCATIONS: knowing where to find things
–names, phone/mobile/fax numbers/email addresses of significant professionals: attorney, physician(s), financial advisor, emergency contact(s), parent’s close friends as well as people who help in a variety of ways (cleaning person, companion, veterinarian (should pet need care or boarding).
–bills and checkbook
–safety deposit box(es) and keys
–keys (identifying what they open)
–hiding place of valuables
–letters of instruction to be read after death
— 3 previous years’ income tax records
–deeds, ownership records, car titles
–birth, marriage certificates, divorce decree(s)
–citizenship and military papers
–if caregiving at home, keep booklet to record observations, vital signs, food and water intake–anything else a doctor wants–on a daily basis
–maintain up-to-date list of medications, their strength, and their dosage.
–maintain allergy list if applicable
–up-to-date emergency contact list (2 names minimum) for supervisor or employer if parents works (paid or volunteer)–More important than you might think
–have ambulance service phone # handy. Know when it’s necessary to have ambulance transport to hospital as opposed to your driving (eg. if an old person falls, it almost always preferable NOT to move him or her).
4. *HOUSING (*links to additional good information on same subject)
–is parent’s current home satisfactory?
–have you discussed this, as well as a “PLAN B” if a change is necessary?
–are you familiar with housing options: remaining home with care; moving in with a family member; assisted living, continuing care retirement communities, senior apartments, nursing home?
5. MONEY MATTERS:
–is your parent a veteran, entitled to benefits?–Know how to contact VA
–does your parent have insurance? health, long-term care, life, auto, homeowner’s, liability, other?
–is there enough money from savings, dividends, interest to maintain lifestyle?
— is there a mortgage on home?
–are there credit card, other debts?
–should adult child’s name be added to accounts? Dad took me to the bank and brokerage firm to meet the “guys” and add my name to his accounts several years before he died. I learned a great deal and ultimately helped writing checks–didn’t want to do this electronically as he still needed to–and could–be in charge. Result: didn’t feel as overwhelmed by money matters when he died.
–if money could be or is in short supply, a family meeting way ahead of time, can give an idea as to how members can–or can’t–help.
6. RESPITE: (to give you time for yourself)
–adult day care options
–some hospitals and some senior living communities offer respite as a temporary “break” for caregivers. (If you dad is like mine, you need to know I’ve never seen such adamant refusal as the weekend respite suggestion…I think he thought he might be stuck there.)
–family member or loyal friend who can help you out when needed. (They don’t have ESP; you must initiate–there will no doubt be a time when you’re “in need.”)
–family member or loyal friend for pick up at airport, should you be away when emergency strikes. (I lived far away. My brother or an old friend since elementary school were called upon at different times. Invaluable.)
As said many times, when we help parents age well, we also help ourselves.
With thanks to The Henderson Group for OK-ing the integration of some of its list’s ideas into this comprehensive list.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.
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Last Saturday’s post provided a checklist list to answer Pat’s question about where to find aging parents’ important information. Her parents were very elderly, still took trips, so I assume she was thinking about one of the “what ifs” we all think about when we try to help parents age well: “What If Something Happens While They’re Away?”….a list equally appropriate for far-away-living children who feel/have major responsibility for helping their aging parents.
That said, there are many checklists you can Google, focusing on elderly care, end-of-life planning, financial planning, home safety, legal, problems to look for, questions to ask doctors, what to look for in assisted living arrangements… to name some.
The checklist from last Saturday plus the ones below* provide comprehensive information for us as we try to do our best to help relatively healthy, independent-living, aging parents age well. (FYI–Interestingly, my last Saturday’s checklist is the only one I’ve found that mentions “computer passwords” and “PINS.”)
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and institutions, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.