Help Aging Parents–and Us! PINs & Passwords

Essential Aging Parent Information

Picture this: Our with-it aging father banks online and has a smart phone. But we don’t know his PINS (personal identification numbers), passwords or where–or even if–there’s a list of them somewhere. This didn’t trouble us when we bragged about his ability to use new technology, but it becomes a gigantic problem when a health event that affects his memory occurs–namely: he can’t remember his PINS or passwords and we don’t know where to find them.

We know where he banks; have the list of emergency and professional people to contact; and know where to find necessary documents. But how do we pay his bills online, get into iTunes, update Adobe,  or access other things that require PINs or passwords?

When someone is hospitalized, we don’t think about the above. We may forget to check that his/her technology is updated or even look at his or her cell phone or computer. We have other priorities.

For example: Gramp banks online. He uses a Mac, but doesn’t regularly update. Now he’s hospitalized, his memory has been impacted by medications and surgery and someone needs to pay his ordinary bills. He asks his adult child to pay his bills online, like he does, on his Mac.

Once logged in, an email from Gramp’s bank says users should update their browser. Adult child immediately updates browser and bills are paid online. No problem. Two weeks later, however, “update browser” messages keep appearing, online banking isn’t working. Phone call to bank’s technical support reveals some major browser changes are  being made; unfortunately, temporarily, only two browsers work–one (not Safari) for Apple products, plus another. While the bank is trying to remedy the problem there’s no guarantee how long it will take. Therefore, simply download the browser that works. It’s downloaded. Result: still locked out of online banking.

Apple is contacted. It seems Gramp’s Mac doesn’t have the latest–now necessary–update. While it’s free from the App Store, Gramp’s Apple ID, now needed, is nowhere to be found. No way to update. Gramp’s bills must be paid by check and mailed.  How time-consuming and frustrating is that–especially when we’re worried about–and attending to– Gramp’s recovery..

Is it denial? Laziness? Are our parents too busy? Do we fail to recognize that memory can be affected by things other than death? Yes, it takes time to record PINs and passwords. Perhaps we can help with this chore. Case made.

To double-check that we have all aging parents’ essential information, click the link below from my updated 2014 post. It can help mitigate problems later on.


Check out “
Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.