Financial and Medical Information You Need to Care for a Loved One

If you are responsible for caring for a loved one, you will need to organize your loved one’s medical information and medical/legal documents for effective caregiving. Here is an annotated list of information and documents for you to gather.

Medical Information

  • List of doctors—include name, specialty, phone number, and address for each.
  • List of prescriptions—include name of drug, dosage, and prescribing doctor.
  • List of known allergies—also include known drug reactions.
  • Pharmacies—include phone number, address, and hours for local pharmacy; include phone number and website for mail order pharmacy.

Medical Insurance

  • Patient identification card—for each insurer.
  • Policy—for each insurer; Examples: health insurances, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, drug coverage.

Medical/Legal Documents

  • Directive to Physicians and Family—(also known as a Living Will) this document communicates an individual’s wishes about medical treatment if the individual is unable to make his/her wishes known because of illness or injury.
  • Power of Attorney for Medical Decisions—names another person to make health care decisions for an individual if he/she is unable to make such decisions for himself.
  • Who May Receive Medical Information Form—(also known as a HIPAA form after the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) names who may receive your medical information.
  • Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate Order—(also known as an OOHDNR) this is an instruction to EMT’s or others in an out-of-hospital setting not to take measures to resuscitate the individual.
  • Durable Power of Attorney—names another person to manage an individual’s legal and financial affairs if he/she becomes unable to do so.
  • Declaration of Guardian in the Event of Later Incompetence or Need of a Guardian—names another person to make decisions for him/her if some event or illness were to render him/her unable to make decisions for himself.

After a long illness, you may have one more act of caregiving: carrying out your loved one’s last wishes. It can be a source of comfort to know that you are doing what a loved one wanted. You will find this much easier to do if you have discusses last wishes and gathered these documents while your loved one is still well enough to communicate.

Last Wishes

  • Body Disposition Authorization Affidavit—communicates an individual’s wishes about disposition of remains.
  • Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains—names another person to make all decisions about disposition of remains after death; especially important if an individual names a non-family member.
  • Body, Organ or Tissue Donation—usually forms or a card carried on one’s wallet.
  • Preference Regarding Funeral or Memorial Service—best if put in writing.
  • Final Resting Place—cemetery plot, columbarium, ashes scattered.
  • Information for Obituary—important dates and accomplishments, survivors, where donations may be sent.

How to Organize and Store

Once you gather this information, it’s very handy to file these records in an expanding file folder. Be sure to get one with a flap that closes so that you do not lose important papers. You can choose fabric or plastic folders. Bright colors are easy to spot and grab quickly in an emergency.

It’s also a good idea to copy all of the information for a second folder as a back-up or for another caregiver. You may want to have your back-up copies on a flash drive as a convenient way to keep the information handy.

Amy Praskac is the owner and founder of On the Record Advance Planning. She blogs about record keeping of all sorts at Amy on Organizing Records

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