Organization is the best way to end the year and begin the next, especially if your loved one has been ill. Arranging the needs of our seniors can be a long task, but the effort more than repays itself. Follow these suggestions to start “new” in the New Year.
Make a portable carry file with individual file folders inside. Name each file with individual Doctor’s names, addresses and phone numbers. As medical, pharmaceutical bills, and EOB’s (Explanation of Benefits) forms arrive in the mail, they can be easily filed and accessible. If the expenses are extensive, you may be asked to produce past paid invoices for physicians or even hospitals.
Update personal files. Update medication lists twice to three times yearly. Dispose of old prescriptions. Note of new ones. Make several copies of this list and keep them in your files for easy access in the event of emergency or new doctor visits. Noting when a drug is added/subtracted, purchase date, and if the drug has been suspended, when and who suspended it. Update all dosage changes. Changes will be in order of date for easy reference. Keep a copy in your car in case of emergency.
Power of Attorney and Medical Power of Attorney. Be sure Power of Attorney and Power of Medical Attorney are in place and keep copies with key family members as well as in your loved one’s personal file. Carry copies to doctor’s visits and add them to your senior’s medical files. Place copies of these papers along with Living Wills, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and other end-of-life requests in an envelope and tape them to the refrigerator or inside a cabinet door in the kitchen in the event EMT or Paramedic services are required.
Banking needs. Make arrangements with banks and lending institutions so key family members are able to access funds in the event your loved one is unable to manage their personal business. Simply being listed on the signature card at the bank does not give you access to funds in the event of the loss of a parent. Check with all banking institutions, life insurance, 401K providers, and retiree benefits to be sure the proper paperwork is in place otherwise, accounts can be locked by the institution and made inaccessible.
Verify Insurance co-pays and coverages. Verify deductibles and co-pays. Inquire about old coverages and verify changes. If changes have occurred, ask companies to mail an updated coverage sheet so you are prepared. Never assume that insurance remains unchanged. Healthcare is changing continually. There is no longer security in what you “once” had. Failure to keep up-to-date on insurance can cost your loved one thousands of dollars.
Logs and calendars. Keep a log book of Doctor visits, reason for visit, items discussed, any medication changes, and referrals. It’s easy to forget instructions, but if an emergency arises the details are easily forgotten or confused. The faintest pen is better than the sharpest memory. If there is an in-home caregiver having this log book provides up-to-date information for the care of their patient, but for you, it provides accountability in how those caregivers are providing services. Write upcoming dates on a large calendar so seniors can see the appointments clearly. Keeping a calendar can be one of the best things you do for your aging parent. It adds a sense of security and routine to their lives and it reduces stress and worry. Large erasable calendars are wonderful.
Personal Emergency Response Button. PERS units are valuable assets for aging parents. Units are placed in the home and the client wears a button around their neck. In the event of a fall or an emergency, parents simply press the button. A call center responds immediately securing the necessary emergency help necessary. PERS units save lives by getting immediate response to family members.
Caregiver services are available to offer respite to families. Many seniors may need minimal assistance bathing, dressing, and help with daily living skills. Caregivers placed by in-home, non-medical companies can provide this assistance. Seeking caregiver services through a company provides families with the security that individuals coming into the home are safe, reliable and fully meet state licensure requirements for in-home care.
Start the year by being prepared. Taking these advance steps will bring your loved one into the new year with a new sense of security and ease.