How to Get Organized When Your Elderly Loved Ones Need You

by: Jean Marie Herron

It happens to us all; as we age so do our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and other special people in our lives. Even if your family is running smoothly right now it's never too early to plan what to do before a crisis sets in.

Where do you begin? Here are 5 tips to consider when your loved ones (LO) begin to go from independent to dependent living:

1. Think ahead.

  • Have a candid discussion with your LO about what they want to do with their senior years. Maybe if they live in sunny Florida and you live in New Jersey they won't want to come back and live with you in the northeast for their 70's and 80's even if you volunteer your home as a safe haven.
  • Have a candid discussion with your LO about what you can/can't do based on your current lifestyle. Maybe you have two children in school and both you and your spouse work. It's hard enough to find time to empty your dishwasher let alone run your LO to their medical appointments.

2. Consider everyone's finances. How will the people involved be paying for where they decide to live?

  • Live alone in what type of dwelling
  • Live with Home Care Agencies lending a hand
  • Live with relatives
  • Live in a senior community
  • Live in an assisted living community
  • Live in a nursing home
  • What's free versus what costs money

3. What are the current and potential future medical issues?

  • Will your LO have Medicare/Medicaid, other health plans/insurance
  • Who will be your LO medical advocate at the doctors, hospitals and at home
  • Do you need to change your house/their house with medical equipment

4. Who will be the "Go To" person? Should your LO become physically or mentally not capable of caring for themselves who will:

  • Be the Power of Attorney
  • Taxi driver
  • Cook
  • Cleaning person
  • Do the banking
  • Set up routines, schedules and boundaries
  • Delegate

5. Discover and discuss where the important papers are.

  • Create a medical journal
  • Create a Grab and Go binder
  • Create a bill paying schedule
  • Create a reference filing system for papers
  • Ask for last wishes

Remember, being organized is in many cases, pure planning. It takes years for our loved ones to age. Use this time wisely to communicate the physical, psychological, financial and spiritual needs of each other. Ask yourself the following question, "If not now, when?" and plot your calendar with specific dates and times that you will implement the above tips and strategies to help the older ones in your family that will be looking to you for support in their later years.

At POSSE (Professional Organizing Solutions Serving Everyone) we cater to homeowners who want one-on-one help with their organizing endeavors whether it's their space, papers or time. We also hold organizing classes called Clutter Corrals, have a monthly forum for supporting each other called POSSE's Pen and give organizing presentations as well. Learn more and sign up for a free newsletter at

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