WHERE TO BEGIN?
The Oath: "My parent's ( parents' , loved one's) well-being has been placed in my care. I have a full-time job, and a family and household of my own to care for. But these are my parents and they need my help now. May I find the strength to navigate this journey with them and to make the right decisions for them. "
Being ready for the day our parents get old is something for which we are never ready. We need to talk about it. As their adult children, we are making assumptions that our parents have planned out their future care. Everyone plans for retirement, but this does not necessarily mean that they have planned for their Elderhood.
What's the difference? Retirement is planning for a period in time when one stops working. However, Elderhood is a stage in one's life! It is when we finally notice that they are moving a little slower, things are becoming more difficult for them to manage and everyday tasks are getting harder for them to do. This is Elderhood. It catches us all by surprise, but it does not have to happen this way.
Elderhood is something that should be planned out. This is one of the goals of Aging Parents Management - to offer information that you and your parents will use on this journey together. The key is knowing where to start.
HERE ARE TWO GUIDES TO HELP YOU START THE PROCESS:
STEP 1: THE CONVERSATION
It all starts with a conversation with your parents. It will be an uncomfortable one and you may have a hard time finding the right words to begin it. One way to get it started is by simply by asking; "Do you have things in place if and when something happens to you or Mom?"
STEP 2: KEY DOCUMENTS
Next, there are three key documents that everyone should have in place: a Power of Attorney, a Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney. It's never too early to have them put in place. We suggest that you contact an Estate Planning Attorney who will guide you through this process in a caring and organized manner. For more information, visit Legal-Ease.
Here are some things to keep in mind about these documents; 1) know where your parents store them and 2) make sure they are current. It is important to know where these documents are when you need them. In Step 3, we offer tips on how to keep track of it all. Another important point is to make sure these documents are up to date because relationships and situations change. Your parents will want to verify that the people who were once designated with authority should still have it. Also, many businesses and financial institutions insist on with working with a "fresh" document - especially POAs. Your parents may be asked to have a new one drawn up or re-certified by an attorney if they were created years ago.
STEP 3: GETTING ORGANIZED
When taking on the responsibility of managing your parent(s) care, it is necessary to have a good system in place to keep it all organized. The responsibilities may include: paying their bills, coordinating doctors visits, managing investments, tracking financial statements and healthcare documents, etc. It is an overwhelming amount of paper and information. Aging Parents Management offers these tips on simple ways to help you get organized. Here is our little secret - do not co-mingle your stuff with their stuff!
Here is a list of tools, programs, Apps, services and systems we used to get ourselves organized or have found along the way:
Emergency Planning Portfolio from CaptureYourInfo.com-The Emergency Planning Portfolio, (EPP) was created to help you prepare for severe weather, natural disasters or first by giving you helpful information, useable checklists and suggested tasks to prepare your house and family.
A POST OFFICE BOX- Set up a PO Box at your local post office - especially, when your parents are living with you. This will keep their "stuff" from getting mixed in with yours. The best way to go about setting one up is to visit the post office together with your parents. However, if this is not possible due to health reasons, you will be able to apply for a PO Box for them as long as you have proper legal representation.
EMAIL ACCOUNT - Create a separate email account to manage emails specific to your parents' matters. This prevents your personal emails from getting co-mingled with theirs. Setting one up is easy by using one of the many FREE email services. We recommend using Gmail because it offers other beneficial features which we will touch on later.
SHARED CALENDAR - Another benefit of setting up a dedicated Email account for your parents is access to a shared calendar. This helps with coordinating appointments and important tasks with other family members. This will also help to keep your personal appointments separate from theirs.
ONLINE ACCESS - Store your passwords and logins in one place such as a notebook.
CLOUD STORAGE DRIVES - One of the most overwhelming tasks of a Care Manager is document management. The second is having the KEY DOCUMENTS on you at the time of an emergency. By storing the documents related to your parents' care in a Cloud Drive - such as Google Drive, ICloud, OneDrive - will allow you to access them from anywhere. It is a great place to store KEY DOCUMENTS which can be easily accessed in the time of an emergency via your phone.
Setting up a Cloud File System is simple. Create folders that make sense to you so you know where to find stuff quickly and easily. If you share this care management of your parents with others who need access to these files, all you have to do is share it.
SCANNER AND SHREDDER - Two very helpful tools are a scanner and a shredder. A small desktop scanner is used to scan documents into their Cloud Storage Drive. Once the documents are scanned and filed away, you may be able to shred the originals (but always keep originals of important legal documents like Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Directives.)
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