Organizing for Caregivers


February 4, 2021


One of the facts a new caregiver can quickly discover is that the paperwork and other information you need to keep track of can be pretty overwhelming. Figuring out a system that works for you to help keep things organized can be a big help not only in your caregiver role but also in managing your personal record keeping.

There is not a single approach that is guaranteed to work for everyone. If you like technology and electronic record-keeping, investing in a scanner and developing a well-organized set of file folders on your computer may be part of the answer for you. Others may prefer a paper filing system. An expandable accordion file can be a handy place for all those papers as can a large three ring binder.

It is also a good idea to have key information in a portable format – file folder, binder, even electronic files that can be carried on your cell phone or a netbook or laptop computer. This way if you need to head to the hospital emergency room – or even need to evacuate your home for any reason – it will be easy to pick up and carry along with you.

But even before you address how to store all the stuff, you need to figure out WHAT you need to have on hand in your caregiver role. To some degree this will depend on how deeply involved you are in the day to day life of your care receiver. If you are managing finances, you will need a good way to keep track of bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, etc., for your care receiver. If you are just helping with keeping track of medical insurance claims and reimbursements, a file folder or three ring binder can work really well.

Let’s start with an overview of the basic information that we all should have collected in a single place for ourselves – it is the same information that you will most likely at some point need from your care receiver.

  • Key contacts: names and contact information for doctors, attorneys, insurance agents, investment advisors, etc.

  • Legal: location(s) of wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents such as titles for any real estate
    – names and contact information of executors, trustees and those named in powers of attorneys

  • Financial: location and account numbers for all accounts (banks, brokerage, loans, credit cards, etc.);

  • Insurance policy numbers (life, home, auto, etc.)

  • Location and number of safe deposit box (and who can sign to access the box)

  • Medical: location of medical records, list of medications

  • Property: location of titles to cars, boats, home and other titled property

Add to this basic list based on your own situation.

If gathering all this information seems a bit intimidating, remember that you don’t have to do it all at once. Take some time every week or so to work on gathering the information. If you can do this with your care receiver in advance of having an emergency need for the information, it will be much easier to manage.

Reference: Written by Betty Purkey (based on personal experience!)

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