This article appears in Atlanta Business Chronicle.
As individuals age, it becomes increasingly important to establish a solid framework that ensures their physical, emotional and financial needs are met. In addition to caring for your aging loved ones, it’s important to recognize the significance of planning for your future as well. Taking proactive steps to prepare for your own elder care can bring peace of mind and help ensure your wishes are respected as you age.
Whether you’re preparing to care for aging loved ones or working toward ensuring your own care, our Elder Care Checklist addresses key aspects of elder care planning, including financial preparations, health care preferences and estate arrangements. The tool helps you to create a comprehensive roadmap for your well-being and that of your family. By embracing this holistic approach, you can establish a solid foundation for your future while caring for those who have cared for you throughout your life.
Categories in the checklist include personal records and documents; financial information; health care conditions, prescriptions and caregivers; estate planning tasks; and home maintenance details.
Personal records and documents
Gathering and organizing personal records and documents involves compiling essential information such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, passports and other identification documents. We also recommend making copies of insurance policies, marriage certificates, divorce papers and military records, if applicable, and storing them securely. Keeping these documents in a safe and easily accessible location helps ensure your or your elderly loved one’s identity and legal status are protected and streamlines administrative tasks should a critical situation arise.
A comprehensive overview of financial matters typically entails documenting bank account details, investment portfolios, retirement accounts and any other assets or liabilities. Make a list of regular sources of income, including pensions and Social Security benefits. Document monthly expenses, insurance policies and outstanding debts. Ensuring financial information is well organized and up to date allows for better financial management. It helps family members or caregivers make informed decisions on behalf of the elderly individual when necessary.
Health care conditions, prescriptions and caregivers
We recommend recording chronic illnesses, allergies and previous medical procedures or hospitalizations. List all current medications, dosages and instructions for proper administration and document health care providers’ names and contact information, including primary care physicians, specialists, therapists and home health care aides. This information helps ensure proper medical care, enhances communication among health care professionals, and enables swift action in emergencies.
Estate planning tasks
Estate planning is an aspect of elder care planning that involves preparing for the distribution of assets and making end-of-life decisions. This portion of the checklist includes details on wills, trusts and power of attorney documents. These legal instruments designate how assets will be distributed and who will make decisions on their behalf if an individual becomes incapacitated. Additionally, information on advanced health care directives, which outline preferences for medical treatment and life-support measures, can be included. Regularly reviewing and updating these documents ensures wishes are respected and estates are managed according to documented intentions.
The checklist includes a list of necessary home maintenance tasks, such as making copies of keys and developing a list of required home repairs. Discussing home safety measures, such as installing grab bars in bathrooms, removing tripping hazards and ensuring proper lighting, should also be included. Addressing home maintenance needs helps create a comfortable and secure living environment, reducing the risk of accidents and supporting older adults’ ability to age safely in place.
Completing the Elder Care Checklist can empower individuals, families and caregivers to provide the best possible support and care for themselves and their elderly loved ones. Taking a proactive approach helps alleviate stress during challenging times and can enhance the overall well-being and quality of life for an elderly individual.
Do you or someone you know need help managing finances as part of an elder care plan? Contact us today.
SignatureFD is a financial advising firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. We believe in helping our clients achieve wealth beyond money. Our team of investment, financial planning and tax experts are committed to proactively helping clients take control of their financial lives and achieve their goals.
Vicki Shackley, JD, LLM, CFP, is a partner, wealth advisor and director of SignatureWOMEN. Shackley is a former estate planning attorney with a Juris Doctorate and Master of Law in Taxation. She is a member of the Florida Bar Association.