Documents of Aging
Our lives start with a single document and increase throughout life until the documents of aging reach the most critical point. That first document is our birth certificate, but it is not the last one that will involve a doctor. For seniors, documents and doctors increase in importance each year. Ensuring you have the right documents and have them accessible at the right time is what this article is about.
Parents provide the management of documents as we grow up, but when we are out on our own there is a need to establish an emergency contact. This is a person that you trust to handle your most private information, is willing and able to assist in the event of an emergency, and organized enough to keep copies of your documents in a safe accessible location. They are likely to also have copies of your house keys and on-line account information and passwords.
An initial document should contain information about all your financial accounts, credit cards, properties, automobiles, assets, and investments. Due to life’s changes, this should be updated at least annually. Your emergency contact should have a copy and know where the originals are. Determine if a different person should receive your power of attorney responsibility. An executor of your estate should also be chosen. Multiple people reduce the risk of unavailability.
The next group of documents is referred to as advance directives. If you are unable to make decisions for yourself these documents (or persons) will. They should include a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, power of attorney for financial matters, do not resuscitate orders, organ donor cards, and funeral plans. Each state has its own rules so be sure these are up to date in the state you reside and are protected from fire, flood, or theft.
Life’s documents will include a birth certificate, driver’s license, social security card, marriage certificate, passport, military I.D., wills, trusts, contracts, various insurance policies including long term care, and any other legal or financial documents that might be needed. A funeral planning guide should be completed so your final wishes are able to be handled. All preferences and prepayments should be obvious to guide those given responsibility.
A separate collection of documents are needed for your medical records. Primary and specialist doctor contacts, prescription records, home health or caregiver information, and a summary of medical conditions, especially if some are life-threatening, or require specialized care. Immunization records, any allergies listed, and physical aids required should be listed. HIPPA laws prevent anyone from accessing your records without specific written authorization.
Life’s daily routines should be available to your emergency contacts, such as pet information, employment, community, and religious affiliations. Who do you want the emergency contact to notify in the event of a life-changing occurrence that prevents you from communicating? There is often a different list for hospitalization than death. Are there people relying on you that should be contacted? Family, friends, and communities can change so keep up to date.
One life-changing event can expose just how unaware everyone is about information pertinent to you and each member of your family. All adults of every age can reduce stress, heartache, and expense by knowing about the documents of aging, then taking the steps to prepare for an inevitable occurrence. CarePatrol has partnered with local professionals to explain about these documents and offer their services in taking those steps.