Do you know where your mom’s life insurance policy is? What about the name of your parents’ lawyer? Or who dad’s health care power of attorney is? What financial accounts do they have — and where? Where is their safe-deposit box and its key? One of the most important things to do when it comes to advance care planning is to identify and organize important documents.
These include legal documents, such as wills, living wills, and durable power of attorneys for finances and health care, which spell out how your parents want their affairs to be handled in the future and make sure their wishes regarding their end-of-life plans are clear.
Other Important Documents
In addition to important financial and legal documents, you’ll also want to get a handle on where to find your loved ones’ personal information, such as the location of their birth certificates and certificates of marriage and/or divorce, the sources of their income and assets, and their insurance information with policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers. Your parents might be reluctant to discuss their finances and advance care planning. If that’s the case, emphasize that you are their advocate and you just want to ensure their wishes are honored. Stress that you don’t need to take over but that you’re available to help lighten their load and are interested in getting all the information you need in case of an emergency. If they are still resistant, consider getting their doctor and/or lawyer involved. The expert opinion of a doctor can be a potent influence.
Two Advance Care Planning Charts
Below are two charts you can download, print, and can complete with your parents.
Use the Personal Record Chart to write down information about each important document and record where everything is kept.
Then use the Medication List Chart to keep track of the medicines your loved one takes. Tracking medications is one of the most important exercises that you can do to help keep your parents safe from medication accidents. In the Notes section, also include information about drug allergies, blood type, preferred pharmacies, primary care partners, and insurance.
Put a copy of these charts as well as copies of all your parents’ important papers and legal documents in one place. Tell everyone in your parents’ personal support network where they can find the advance care planning file. Check each year to see if there’s anything new to add.
Personal Records Chart
Medication List Chart
No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, acknowledge potential hazards and exercise proper advance care planning.