Now that the holidays have come to a close and the decorations are down and stored for the year, it’s a prime opportunity to sit with your senior and sort out the upcoming year. Being organized is the best way to start a new year, especially if your loved one has been ill through the previous year.
Arranging and rearranging the needs of our seniors can be a long task but the effort more than repays you when the time comes. 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 bills and EOB’s (Explanation of Benefits) forms arrive in their mail boxes, they can be easily filed and accessible.
Update personal files. It pays to update medication lists twice to three times yearly. Sort through medications and dispose of old prescriptions then make note of new ones. It’s always wise to make several copies of this list and keep them in your files for fast and easy access in the event of emergency or new doctor visits. Place a copy in your car and in the car of your senior (should they still be driving) along with a list of important phone numbers i.e. doctors, hospital of their choice, key family members so you and your loved one are always prepared.
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.
Make arrangements with banks and lending institutions so that key family members are able to access funds in the event of an emergency and your loved one is unable to manage their personal business.
Verify Insurance co-pays and coverages. The new year brings new co-pays and changes in old coverages. Take time to contact insurance companies and verify deductibles and co-pays. Inquire about old coverages, especially the most used ones, and verify nothing has changed. If changes have occurred, have the companies mail an updated coverage sheet so you are prepared. As unstable as the economy is, never assume that insurance remains unchanged.
Logs and calendars are important. Keep a log book of Doctor visits, what the issue was and anything discussed, any medication changes and referrals. We tend to think we won’t forget instructions, but if an emergency arises the details are easily forgotten or confused—dates in particular, so keep a log book.
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.
Taking these advance steps will bring your loved one into the new year with a new sense of security. Be ready for the new year with advance preparation. You’ll be glad you did.