Planning Ahead with a Loved One

10 Things You Should Know About Your Aging Parents

These ten seemingly simple things can mean the difference between being prepared in an emergency, or fumbling helplessly through a junk drawer in the middle of the night while the doctors and nurses treating your loved one wait on vital information.

As a career policy maker in the healthcare industry, I knew the importance of making sure my mother had insurance and up-to-date Medicare and Medicaid information—but when she had her stroke, I realized that I was missing so much of the information that was necessary for her health care.

If you haven’t yet started having the necessary conversations with your parents, I encourage you not to wait any longer to begin. Here is a checklist to help you guide a conversation and start communicating.

  • Keep an up-to-date list of current medications. This may be the most important part of the checklist, as it will aid immensely in an emergency.

  • Record your family member’s insurance numbers, including Medigap/Medicare supplemental policy details and long-term care insurance policy number and contact info.

  • Know how to access your family member’s Medicare drug plan information

  • Get their primary care physician’s name and contact info.

  • Does the patient have a pacemaker or use other medical devices and supplies?

  • Have you arranged HIPAA status for access to medical records?

  • Gather the URLs, usernames, and passwords for all patient portals.

  • Know the banks, branches, account and/or routing numbers for your loved one’s bank and credit accounts and arrange access to any online banking accounts they use.

  • Get the contact information for their investment advisor (if any).

  • Be aware of any automatic payments drawn from bank or credit card.

In my book The Family Caregiver, I go into further detail on this and other helpful information that will make caring for your loved ones easier.