Organizing Important Documents

Whether you anticipate moving or downsizing in the future or not, having your important documents together and accessible is so important. Here is a great article by Claudia Rumwell, RN, Senior Care Consultant; Author, Senior Care Organizer to help you make sure you have them ready.

Are Your Ducks in a Row? 

You may or may not be someone who likes to organize; or can find the time to organize even if you wanted to.  You could be helping aging parents, or thinking that at some point you will need to provide assistance.  You may be a healthy senior.  You eat right, exercise, and follow your doctor’s advice with respect to any medical conditions you have.  But you know things are changing… you can’t do some of the things you did when you were in your 40’s. 

Part of my “organization” focus has to do with important documents and other information that we should have available.  We just don’t know when we might need them; and certainly, if an emergency, or other medical concerns come up and we aren’t organized, that’s when we wish we were.  Even a little bit of planning can reduce some of the stress we experience during those times.

Here are some Basics:

Bring the documents/information together into one place.  This could be into file folders or cabinet drawer, but what’s even easier for storage is a large 3 ring Binder with alphabetical tabs.  Copies of documents are included in the Binder; while originals will need to be kept locked up (e.g., safe deposit box or Safe in your home).  Locate the following documents and/or information:

1)    Healthcare directive/Living will (You list your desires for care and name the individual to make decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself)

2)    Power of Attorney (You name the individual to make financial and/or medical decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself)

3)    Insurance Policies:·

  • Medical, Dental
  • Home (Owner or Renter’s)
  • Auto
  • Personal Liability
  • Life
  • Long term care

4)    Medical Lists and Information:

  • Doctor, Dentist and Hospital Contacts
  • Medications
  • Surgical History
  • Medical Conditions
  • Supplies and Equipment necessary for care

5)    Financial:

  • Banking Institution: contacts, account numbers, safety deposit box
  • Healthcare expenses – E.O.B.’s (Explanation of Benefits): keep statements in a labeled file folder for future reference if needed.
  • Assets, income, expenses

6)    Other important documents:

  • Social Security card
  • Funeral/Burial/Cremation Plan
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage License
  • Military discharge
  • Proof of citizenship (if needed)
  • Divorce/separation papers if applicable

There is more that can be organized, but this is a good start.  I say this quite often:   “we can reduce the stress of future urgency if we prepare ahead of time.”   I encourage you to take a look at the Senior Care Organizer, (www.seniorcareorganizer.com).  You can view an informational video and see a Preview of the Organizer.

People with binder

So, if you haven’t already done so, go get those “ducks in a row.”  Because……“When you don’t have a plan, that’s when you need one.”