Older adult children working from home have been contacting Aging Life Care Managers such as those at Careplan Geriatric Care Managers in Cleveland, Ohio to get organized. Children are taking advantage of the extra time to get their elderly parents health and personal matters organized in the event of an unfortunate event.
Karen McGinty of Medina, Ohio a school principal states “now is the perfect time to get the essential “crisis” paperwork in order”. I should have done this sooner but there was never a good time.
What is considered “crisis” Paperwork?
Crisis paperwork includes those documents that in a crisis will help advocate and ensure client wishes are honored.
As an Aging Life Care Manager-Licensed Social Worker, I have seen tremendous confusion and concerns rise when a crisis occurs and necessary documents have not been executed or never completed. During a crisis, emotions are already running high and stress is inevitable. The Aging Life Care Association’s members suggest making it easier for you and/or your loved ones by identifying and completing your crisis paperwork now and organizing it in a designated space away from other miscellaneous paper. An Aging Life Care Manager can assist in completing documents and place in an Emergency Binder in the event of need. An Aging Life Care Manager will also keep a copy on file and meet the older adult in the hospital or home in times of emergency.
Here are the healthcare documents elderly parents need to organize their life for a crisis:
Essential Documents as Recommended by An Aging Life Care Manager
There are eight documents you’ll need to access your parents’ medical information and related financial information:
- HIPAA authorization: This allows physicians and other healthcare providers to share information with you. If there are certain types of information your parents do not wish to share, they can indicate that on the form. You can find generic HIPAA forms online or get one from your primary care physician.
- Advance directive: An advance directive, which is sometimes also called a living will, outlines what medical care you do and do not want if you are dying or not expected to regain consciousness and under what circumstances these decisions should be applied. For example, do your parents want to undergo CPR or defibrillation if their heart stops, be put on a ventilator, or have a feeding tube? Your parents can write their own advance directive, get a template from their physician, have a lawyer draw up the document, or get a form from their state’s health department or department on aging.
- Durable power of attorney for healthcare: This indicates who you would like to have power to make medical decisions on your behalf. This person is called a healthcare proxy. Your parents can indicate whether they would like their proxy to be able to make all medical decisions or just specific ones.
- Durable power of attorney: This allows you to make financial decisions on your parents’ behalf, pay bills, and access financial information, including talking with health insurers, long-term care insurance providers, and hospital and healthcare provider’s billing departments.
- Comprehensive medical record: Having an up-to-date, easily accessible, comprehensive medical record is especially important if your parents are being treated for several health issues. People with multiple health issues often see several specialists in addition to their primary care doctor and may be prescribed medications by multiple physicians. Their medical record can help make sure that key information is available to everyone who treats them and can lower the risk of overtreatment, duplicate diagnostic testing, and prescription drug interactions or the prescription of duplicate or no longer needed medications.
- Do not resuscitate and/or do not intubate order, if desired: While this information is often included in an advance directive, if your parents do not want to be resuscitated in the event their heart stops or put on a ventilator, it can be helpful to have a separate order that is shared with their physicians, EMTs, hospital and other healthcare facility staff, and staff at any senior living or rehabilitation facility.
- Medicare, supplemental, and long-term care insurance policy information: You need the policy numbers and customer service phone numbers for these insurance policies so you can review coverage, file, check, and dispute claims, and pay premiums on your parents’ behalf.
- Letter of instruction: This document details end of life wishes, for example, funeral and/or memorial service arrangements, burial or cremation plans, and organ and tissue donation. A letter of instruction also often includes important financial information such as the location of the will and any safe deposit boxes, bank, investment, and retirement account locations and numbers, PIN numbers and passwords for banking and investment accounts, life insurance information, and a list of financial and legal advisors’ contact information.
With these documents, you’ll be able to help your parents navigate the healthcare system and support them as they make important medical decisions.
Have questions on any of the listed forms or documents? Reach out to one of our Aging Life Care experts at aginglifecare.org
About the Author: Bridget Ritossa, LSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Manager and Founder
of Bridget Ritossa Careplan Geriatric Care Managers. Bridget developed a wealth of knowledge and resources in the areas of aging due to her 20 years of practice working at two major hospital systems in Cleveland and two of the largest nursing home chains in the country. Her grandmother lived with her while growing up. As a result, this helped develop a genuine love and appreciation for the elderly. Studies have shown that living at home is better for the mental health of seniors because they are happier in a familiar environment where they can live independently. When home is no longer the best option, Bridget will help families to find the most appropriate placement with her extensive experience in long-term care. Above all, Bridget’s goal was to create a company that would provide older adults with the resources and knowledge to successfully age at home. Therefore, creating an individualized care plan is at the very heart of Careplan Geriatric Care Managers.