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Caring For Elderly Parents

As the population ages, more and more of us assume responsibility for the care of our elderly parents. Whether you have your folks move in with you, help them find suitable assisted living, or just oversee their legal and financial situation — you need to be armed with the right questions to ask.

Assessing Their Needs

Checkmark-Icondoes your parent need help with grooming, bathing, or dressing?

Xmark-Icondoes your parent need help with housekeeping, shopping, or yard work?

Checkmark-Icondoes your friend need help planning or preparing meals?

Xmark-Iconis your parent unable to drive or get around on public transportation alone?

Checkmark-Icondoes your parent need help managing finances and paying bills?

Xmark-Icondoes your parent need help making legal and other important decisions?

Checkmark-Icondoes your parent have trouble functioning at home? would modifications help?

Xmark-Icondoes your parent have trouble with hearing, vision, or memory?

Getting Permission To Make Decisions On Their Behalf

Checkmark-Iconfinancial power of attorney to make financial decisions and pay bills

Xmark-Iconliving will to make life-support decisions

Checkmark-Iconmedical power of attorney to make health care decisions

Xmark-Icondurable power of attorney to make legal decisions

Checkmark-Iconaccess to safe deposit box

Xmark-Iconmay choose to be added to deeds and mortgages

Checkmark-Iconmay need to be added to automobile insurance

Xmark-Iconknow the person’s wishes — medical treatments, funeral, finances, etc.

Important Information To Have On Hand

Checkmark-Iconinsurance — Medicare or Medicaid number, supplement, other policies

Xmark-Icondoctors — names, phone numbers, and other contact information

Checkmark-Iconmedical history — medications, allergies, conditions, procedures

Xmark-Iconidentification — social security, military ID, driver’s license numbers

Checkmark-Iconaddress list — friends, neighbors, family

Xmark-Iconfinancial — account numbers, checkbook, investments, tax records

Checkmark-Iconlegal — wills, powers of attorney, health care directive

Xmark-Icondeeds — house, other property, car title, boat title

Checkmark-Iconinsurance — life, medical, auto, homeowner’s

Xmark-Iconhousehold — mortgage, apartment lease, property tax records

Checkmark-Iconvital records — birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree

Xmark-Iconfinal wishes — organ donation, burial, property distribution

Checkmark-Iconservice providers — attorney, financial adviser, clergy, accountant

Make Sure That You…

Xmark-Iconrespect your parent’s independence, even while taking care of them

Checkmark-Iconallow your parent to make as many decisions as appropriate

Xmark-Iconallow your parent to make as many decisions as appropriate

Checkmark-Iconhave reasonable expectations of what your parent can do independently

Xmark-Icontalk regularly with your parent about their concerns, desires, and frustrations

Checkmark-Iconmake informed decisions that are in the best interest of your parent’s needs

Xmark-Iconshow compassion while you are trying to be efficient and responsible

Taking Care Of Yourself At The Same Time

Checkmark-Iconrecognize when you are getting worn out and need a break

Xmark-Iconmake use of support groups, family, and other caregivers in your situation

Checkmark-Icontake regular breaks to do something enjoyable for yourself

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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