Collecting Information About Your Parents

home health care in maineA few months ago (April, 2013) The New York Times posted an article on their blog, “The New Old Age,” titled “What Millennials Need to Ask Their Parents,” by Jillian Keenan. Keenan shares her experience of trying to care for her father after a surgery to remove a brain tumor that left him unable to remember her, let alone his important information. At the age of 24 she had to take full responsibility for him. Frustration soon came from not knowing details she needs the answers to in order to communicate with individuals about important aspects of his life, like insurance and finances. What was his social security number? Did she have the passwords to his accounts? No.

We never plan for our parents to fall ill unexpectedly, especially when they are still fairly young. It has never occurred to most 20-somethings to ask their parents about their finances, insurance, medical history and health care wishes. Some don’t even have their own housing or health insurance yet. They are just starting to piece together their own lives. Luckily for Keenan, her father’s memory did return and he was able to answer all her questions and provide her with his vital information should she need it again in the future. This is not always the case though.

Even older adults, who have experience dealing with the logistics that accompany life, can find it difficult when a parent becomes unable to care for themselves. Managing your own information, on top of locating and sifting though someone else’s, is overwhelming. Keenan has shared a list of questions for young adults to ask their parents should a crisis arise. Think of other questions you may want to ask as well and add them to the list. Attorney’s contact info and military service information can also be important.

Here is Keenan’s list:

Basic information and important documents
— What is your Social Security number?
— Where can I find your Social Security card?
— What is your date of birth?
— What is your e-mail password? Computer password? Voice mail password?
— What is your health insurance company and policy number?
— Where is your birth certificate?
— Do you have a safe deposit box somewhere? If so, where is it and how do I access it?
— Do you have a life insurance policy?
— Do you have a long-term care insurance policy?
— Are there any Social Security or retirement benefits that I should be aware of?
— Are there any security questions (such as your mother’s maiden name) that I should know the answers to?

Finances
— What bills do you pay? When and how do they need to be paid?
— What bank account should I access if I ever need to pay for some medical expenses out of pocket?
— What back account should I access if I ever need to pay for long-term medical care out of pocket?
— What are your bank account numbers, PINs and passwords?

House
— Where is your house deed?
— How do I sell your house?
— If you are mentally incapacitated and need to move to a long-term medical care facility, which facility would you like me to move you to?
— If you need to move into a long-term medical care facility, what should I do with the contents of your house?

Car
— Where is your car title (and/or registration)?
—Does your car have insurance information I should be aware of?
— How do I sell your car? Is there any additional information I need?

The type of health care services a parent would like to receive is one area that you will want to be informed about, especially for elderly individuals who will most likely rely on long-term care. Some would like to live in a nursing home while a great many others would prefer home care. Are you prepared to take on the role of caregiver? MAS Home Care provides home health care Maine residents can rely on to help in times like these. You can contact MAS for more information regarding your options.

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