Elder Care: 20 IMPORTANT Things to Locate and Keep

Many years ago, I started down the path of elder care.  My parents were in need of someone to help them.  I’m that person.  I wish I knew then what I know now, especially about organizing their important information.  It would have made my elder care road easier.

My parents aren’t organized people.  This led to many frustrations for me.  I would find bills and legal documents in the most unusual places, such as their life policy in a stack of newspapers, their power bill under their place mat at the table, etc.  When they started having services cut off, I decided I needed to step in.

First of all, we bought them a safe to keep their important documents in.  I organized it with file folders labeled for their easy understanding.  I went through stacks and stacks of papers and pitched what wasn’t necessary and filed the important documents.

I came up with a list of 20 important items I, absolutely, needed to know where they were.  Here’s a list of 20 items to know the information or have safely locked away where it’s accessible to the P.O.A (power of attorney) or potential P.O.A.

1.  Know where their wills are located.
2.  Where their Social Security cards are (the actual cards). Make sure these aren’t being carried in their wallets like my parents carried theirs.  Keeping them in their wallet is a possible identity theft situation.
3.  Know what their health insurances covers, where the cards are and the important numbers. My parents carried their cards in their wallets, so I made copies for the safe, front and back, in case the cards were misplaced.
4.  All bills should be in both of their names, if possible, in case of death.  Credit cards could be something different as having their name on the account may signify the debt being passed to the other person upon death.  In this case, #16 might be a better option.
5.  Have signed P.O.A.s, wills, health directives completed and know where they are kept, even if they haven’t been enacted.
6.  Know their social security numbers (or where to find out this information) and birth dates including year of their birth.
7.  Know where they were born.  For instance, my father was born at home, but I know which county registered the birth.
8.  Know where their birth certificates are located.
9.  If they are veterans of military service, know where the discharge papers are located. This is very important if you are dealing with the Veterans Administration.
10.  Know where they keep (should be in a secure location, not on them) codes and pin #s for all accounts.
11.  Copy of their Union cards.
12.  Know the benefits from their Union or Associations (such as burial plots, pensions, life policies, etc.)
13.  Be familiar with their life insurance policies; where the actual policy is, death benefit amounts, companies, companies’ address and phone numbers, and that the beneficiaries are up to date. Have they changed the death benefit amount?  If their beneficiary to their life insurance policy has preceded them in death it can lead to a probate situation and hold up the paying out of the death benefit.  This can be a sticky situation if those funds are needed to pay for their burial.
14.  Know where the titles for their vehicles, boats, toys, deed to home, deed to vacation properties, and the abstract to their home(s).
15.  Location of long term care policies.
16.  Have them put you down as person to talk to for credit card bill, life policies, other bills, etc.  If this isn’t done, you will have to file P.O.A.s with the companies, before you will get any help.  Most of the time, it is as easy as calling the company in the presence of your elder, who’s name is on the account, and having them talk with the customer service representative to let them know it is fine to talk with you, the elder care person.
17.  Know where they keep their bills before and after they are paid.  What system do they use for paying their bills?
18.  Know who the family treasures go to.  Is it written down?  Hearsay doesn’t always work.  It can lead to hard feelings later.  It helps to have it written down so everyone can see where these items go after the elder is gone.  Dealing with grief is hard enough, writing it down, in advance, cuts down on the unpleasant feelings later.
19.  Know where their lock boxes are kept.  If the lock box is at another locations, such as a bank, they may be locked down upon the death of the owner of the lock box.
20.  Keep a key or the numbers to the combination to their safe or important papers box.  My parents have dementia and it was very common for them to lose the key.  My back up key came in very handy.

Everyone’s situation is different.  The P.O.A. or potential P.O.A. needs to know this information.  Elders with dementia can be very unorganized and this can lead to a nightmare situation upon their death.  As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure”.

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Leave me a comment and let me know if this helps you.


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4 Responses to “Elder Care: 20 IMPORTANT Things to Locate and Keep”

  1. […] Many years ago, I started down the path of elder care.  My parents were in need of someone to help them.  I’m that person.  I wish I knew then what I know now, especially about organizing their important information.  It would have made taking care of me elder mother and father much easier. […]

  2. John Snow says:

    Thank you for sharing your expert advice on the topic. It can help many family caregivers deal with their loved one, especially if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s. The most important thing is keeping track of all the documents of your senior loved one.

    • Nan McAdam says:

      When we begin to take care of our elderly loved one it is often a difficult search to find these documents. Your are right that once they are found we need to keep track of them and know where they are located. Thanks for stopping by the site.

  3. Albert Wool says:

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