Suddenly the roles are reversed for you and your parents. They need your help with their mail, paper work and medical care. It can be a difficult and emotional time too as you as your family find new ways to support each other. Your aging parents need your patience, help and support in ways you may not have imagined.
As with all transitions, having a family meeting is a great first step. Learn from your parents what is most difficult for them. Learn their wishes on how to get started transitioning what must be done. If possible, sit with them while you get started on the tasks. Their input shows your respect for them. They may be resistant to ask for or use your help or those around them. Start with small steps and work together.
Legal and other documents
Start with their important papers. Just like for your own family, you want to keep a copy too of your parents’ papers. Your parents will need a durable power of attorney if you want to help them with financial decisions. A living will helps them share their wishes for medical treatment.
A first step for meeting your parents medical needs is a list of doctors and prescriptions. You will also need their medicare, secondary benefits and prescription benefits numbers as well. A complete medical history will help when emergencies arise.
Once you type these lists, you can print them, save them to Evernote or Dropbox, or take a picture of this list with your smart phone. It’s best to have these with you at all times.
One of my clients created lists that included the pictures of each doctor. It was easy for all family to take his parents to see the doctor and recognize that person.
You may want to ask your parents if they would like help with bill paying and money matters. You can be added to their checking account to be able to pay bills online for them. Be sure to have a record of all account numbers, banks, and financial advisors just in case these are needed later.
Passwords and other details
Not always thought of, but very important, are passwords and other account access information. You can help them by creating a password book using an address book. That way all the passwords are kept together for them.
A list including their insurance information, credit card accounts and other account numbers helps you when you need to contact vendors. Your list should include a contact number and website.
Getting started may be the hardest part. Here are some resources to review.