Estate Planning

Complete List of Things To Do For Elderly Parents (Checklist)

Ty McDuffey


As an adult child, taking care of aging parents can be overwhelming, especially when you don't know what to do or where to start. You may find yourself struggling to manage your parents' finances, medical care, legal matters, and safety. 

In these situations, having an elder care checklist can help you stay organized and ensure that your parents receive the best care possible. 

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive senior care checklist covering what you need to do to care for aging parents.

Key Takeaways:

  • Obtaining bank statements, tax returns, medical history, durable power of attorney or healthcare proxy, and living wills can ensure timely, efficient, and affordable care. 

  • Identify potential safety risks by assessing home safety, investing in monitoring technology, & encouraging exercise and medication management. Have emergency phone numbers in place.

  • Having a caregiving plan and using shared caregiving apps can help families coordinate schedules and divide caregiving tasks. Consider hiring a caregiver if round-the-clock care is needed.

  1. Obtain Financial Documents

Having your parents' financial information is crucial to getting timely, efficient, and affordable care. 

Seniors applying for certain benefits must demonstrate their financial needs and provide comprehensive documentation of their past and present finances.

One example is Medicaid. 

Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage for people with limited income and resources. 

To qualify for Medicaid, seniors must demonstrate that their income and assets fall below a certain monthly threshold, usually between $900 per month for a single applicant or up to $5,500 per month for married applicants, depending on the state you live in. 

To qualify, your parent must provide comprehensive documentation of their past and present finances, including bank statements and tax returns. Failure to provide this documentation could result in the denial of benefits or delays in processing their application.

To avoid situations like this, keep track of the following important financial documents for your parents:

  • List of all bank accounts: Contact each bank or financial institution where your parent holds an account and request copies of statements for each account

  • Pension documents, 401(k) information, and annuity contracts: Contact each organization where your parent holds a retirement account or annuity and request copies of the account documents. 

  • Tax returns: Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and request copies of your parents’ tax returns for the past several years. 

  • Savings bonds, stock certificates, or brokerage accounts: Contact each organization where your loved one holds investments and request copies of the account documents. 

  • Business partnership and corporate operating agreements: Contact the organization where your loved one has a business partnership or corporate interest and request copies of the agreements.

  • Deeds to all properties: Contact the county or city recorder's office where your loved one owns the property and request copies of the deeds. 

  • Vehicle titles: Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your parents’ state and request copies of the vehicle titles.

  • Documentation of loans and debts, including all credit accounts: Contact each creditor and request copies of loan and debt documents. 

  1. Obtain Medical/Healthcare Documents

Regardless of your parents' current health status, they should state their healthcare preferences in a living will and healthcare proxy

These advance directives make sure that their wishes and care instructions regarding life support, organ donation, and other medical issues are followed in the event of their incapacity. 

When taking an older parent to the hospital, you need to have documented proof establishing yourself as their decision maker, such as through their durable power of attorney or advance directives.

  • A durable power of attorney is a legal document in which an older adult designates someone, usually a family member or friend, to make decisions on their behalf if they cannot make decisions for themselves. 

  • An advance directive is a document that outlines your parents' healthcare wishes and instructions in the event they become unable to make medical decisions for themselves.

To get these documents, you should speak with your parent about their wishes and find out if they have completed the necessary legal forms. 

You may need to contact an attorney to help draft the documents or speak with your parents' current attorney to see if they already have them on file.

Having access to your parents' medical history can also be lifesaving during a medical emergency. 

Your parents' medical history can provide critical information about their health status, past medical conditions, and current medications. This information can be helpful during a medical emergency when time is of the essence and healthcare providers need to make quick and informed decisions about your parent's care.

To get your parent's medical history, you can request their medical records from their healthcare providers, including their primary care doctor, specialists, and hospitals. 

To access your parent's medical records, you will typically need to provide authorization or written consent from your parent because medical records are considered private and confidential under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Your parent's healthcare provider will have a process for requesting medical records, which may involve filling out a form or providing a written request. In some cases, you may need to provide proof that you are authorized to access your parent's medical records, such as a durable power of attorney or healthcare proxy.

There may also be fees associated with obtaining copies of your parent's medical records. 

Healthcare providers can charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of copying and mailing the records. The amount of the fee will depend on the provider and the number of pages in the medical record.

Additionally, medical records are necessary for applying for benefits, including VA assistance and Medicaid, and when moving to a senior living community.

Make sure to have your parents': 

  • Health care proxy or power of attorney: obtainable by contacting your parents’ attorney or hiring an attorney to draft them

  • Authorization to release healthcare information: obtainable by asking your parents' healthcare providers for a release form and making sure your parents sign and date it

  • Living will (health care directive): obtainable by hiring an elder law attorney to draft the document

  • Portable medical order, also known as POLST, for seriously ill or frail seniors: obtainable through your parents’ healthcare providers

  • Personal medical records: obtainable through a request to your parents’ healthcare providers with authorization from your parents to access their medical records

  • Emergency information plan: Create an emergency information plan that includes emergency contact information for your parents' healthcare providers and a list of medications they are taking.

  1. Obtain Estate Planning Documents

Check whether your elderly parent has up-to-date and easily accessible end-of-life and estate planning documents. Without these documents, your family can be thrown into unnecessary legal and financial chaos during an already difficult time. 

Here are some essential end-of-life and estate planning documents to keep track of:

  • Last will and testament: This document outlines your loved one's wishes about the distribution of their assets after they die.

  • Trust documents: If your parent has a living trust, this legal document allows them to place their assets within the trust.

  • Life insurance policies: Keep track of any life insurance policies your parent has, as these can provide financial support for their beneficiaries after they pass away.

To obtain any of these documents, you can speak with them and ask if they have already prepared the document. If not, you may need to help them draft the document or contact an attorney or the insurance company to help with the process.

  1.  Gather Other Documents

There are also other miscellaneous documents you'll need to manage your elderly parents' affairs. 

Here's how to obtain some of the most important documents:

  • Marriage certificates: To obtain a marriage certificate, you must contact the office of vital records in the state or county where the marriage occurred, provide identification, and pay a fee.

  • Military records: You can request military records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) online, by mail, or by fax.

  • Birth certificate: To obtain a birth certificate, contact the office of vital records in the state or county where your parent was born. You may need to provide identification and pay a fee.

  • Driver's license: To obtain a driver's license, your parent must visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and provide identification and proof of residency.

  • Social Security card: To obtain a Social Security card, your parent must complete an application and provide a driver's license or birth certificate. The application can be completed online or in person.

  • Passport: To obtain a passport, your loved one must complete an application and provide a driver's license or birth certificate. They also need to provide a passport photo and pay a fee. 

  • Guardianship/conservatorship forms: These documents may be obtained from the court where the guardianship or conservatorship was established. 

  1.  Invest in Safety Measures

As your parents start to age, safety becomes an increasingly important concern. Here are some steps you can take to keep your elderly loved one safe.

Identify Potential Safety Risks

Work with your parents' doctor to identify any physical challenges or health conditions that may put them at risk for accidents or injuries. 

For example, if your loved one has mobility issues, you may need to install handrails or grab bars in the bathroom to prevent falls.

Assess Home Safety

Look over your parent's home for safety risks. 

You can identify potential hazards such as loose rugs or poor lighting and make the necessary modifications to improve safety.

Invest in Monitoring Technology

There are plenty of technologies available to help keep seniors safe. You can install an alarm or security camera system to alert you if your parent wanders away from home. 

A necklace or bracelet with GPS tracking can help you locate your parent if they become lost or disoriented. There are also wearable devices that can detect falls and automatically alert emergency services.

Encourage Regular Movement and Exercise

Regular physical activity can help improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. 

Encourage your parent to participate in activities such as walking or tai chi, or think about enrolling them in an exercise class designed for seniors.

Use Proper Medication Management

Mismanaging medications can be deadly for seniors. Make sure your parent understands how to take their medications and when to take them. 

Consider using a pill dispenser with reminders to ensure medications are taken correctly.

Keep Emergency Numbers Handy

Make sure your parent has easy access to emergency phone numbers, such as 911 and poison control. Post these numbers in a visible location, such as on the refrigerator.

  1.  Make a Caregiving Plan

Caring for aging parents requires careful planning and regular communication with family members and medical professionals. 

One way to ensure that family members are on the same page is to have a family meeting to discuss caregiving responsibilities. During this meeting, you can discuss each person's strengths and weaknesses and divide caregiving tasks accordingly.

You might also want to put your caregiving responsibilities in writing. 

A caregiving contract can outline each person's responsibilities and compensation. A contract can help to clarify expectations and prevent any misunderstandings or disputes down the line. 

Another way to avoid confusion is to use a shared caregiving app to help family members to coordinate schedules and stay up-to-date on appointments, medication schedules, and other important tasks:

  1. CareZone: Carezone allows families to create a shared profile for their loved ones and keep track of medications and appointments. It also has a messaging feature.

  2. Lotsa Helping Hands: Lotsa Helping Hands allows you to create a private community for your family and friends to coordinate caregiving tasks. You can also create a calendar for appointments and tasks.

  3. CaringBridge: CaringBridge allows you to create a private website where you can share updates about your loved one's health and progress. You can also use it to coordinate meals, visits, and other tasks.

Consider Hiring a Professional Caregiver

If your parent requires round-the-clock care, you can hire a professional caregiver.

Professional caregivers can provide a wide range of services, including assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, medication management, meal preparation, and transportation to appointments.

Hiring a professional caregiver might be beneficial in several ways. 

  • First, professional caregivers are trained and experienced in providing care for seniors and can often provide a higher level of care than family members who may not have the same level of expertise.

  • Second, hiring a professional caregiver can help reduce the burden on family members who may be providing care. 

Caring for an aging parent can be physically and emotionally exhausting and can take a toll on family relationships. By hiring a professional caregiver, family members can have more time to focus on their own needs and responsibilities while still ensuring that their loved one is well cared for.

  • Finally, hiring a professional caregiver can provide peace of mind for family members who may not be able to be with their loved one as often as they would like. Knowing that a trained professional is providing care can help to alleviate some of the stress and worry that often comes with caregiving.

If you are considering hiring a professional caregiver for your parent, do your research first and choose a reputable agency. You may also want to involve your parent in the decision-making process so they are comfortable with the caregiver and the care plan.

Think About Pets

If your parents have pets, make sure to discuss what will happen to them if your parents need to move. 

You may need to find a new home for the pets or make arrangements for their care with a local animal shelter or rescue organization.

Explore Other Care Options

Research different types of care options, such as in-home care, personal care homes, and senior living communities. 

Compare the services and amenities offered by each option to find the best fit for your loved one's needs and preferences:

  1. In-home care: In-home care allows your parent to stay in their own home while receiving assistance with daily tasks such as meal preparation, medication management, and personal hygiene.

  2. Personal care homes: Personal care homes are small, private homes that provide care for seniors who need assistance with daily living activities.

  3. Assisted living communities: Assisted living communities provide seniors with housing, personal care services, and medical support. They offer meals, housekeeping, transportation, and socialization.

  4. Memory care communities: Memory care communities are designed for seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. They offer specialized care, including memory-enhancing therapies.

  5. Skilled nursing facilities: Skilled nursing facilities provide round-the-clock medical care and support for seniors with complex medical needs.

Consider factors such as cost, location, staffing ratios, and the quality of care provided. You may also want to schedule tours and meet with staff members to get a better sense of the environment and the level of care provided with each option.

How Can Trustworthy Help Keep My Elderly Parents' Important Documents Safe?

Trustworthy is a secure online platform that can help keep your elderly parents' important documents safe and secure. 

Trustworthy provides cloud storage for important documents such as health care proxies, living wills, financial documents, and other legal documents. By storing these documents securely online, your family can access them from anywhere with an internet connection, and you don't have to worry about losing the physical copies.

Trustworthy uses encryption to protect your parents' documents from unauthorized access. The documents are encrypted into an unreadable format that can only be decrypted with the correct encryption key, protecting them from hacking and other online threats.

With Trustworthy, you can securely share your parents' documents with family members and caregivers. You can control who has access to the documents and what level of access they have. This makes it easier to collaborate on caregiving and legal matters related to your parents.

By using Trustworthy, you can keep your elderly parents' important documents safe, organized, and easily accessible. This can make caregiving and legal matters related to your parents much easier to manage. 

Sign up for your free trial today.