What You Need To Know About Your Parents

By: Sherry Picker

If you have a parent in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility you may encounter a few roadblocks when attempting to get access to their medical information to plan for future care. With strict HIPPA privacy rules, it can be very frustrating if you don’t know some basic information about your mom or dad. Knowing and having it on hand can make discharges and care arrangements much easier.

Because many adult children are geographically separated from their parents making these arrangements can be difficult. If your parents do not have a Power of Attorney, you may want to consider having them consult with an Elder Law attorney to learn the benefits. If your parents already have a POA in order that’s great! Your parent’s doctors, lawyer, bank, insurance company and financial advisor should have a copy of POA information on file. Having this legal information in order will make things easier in an emergency or crisis situation, let alone just speaking to hospital or rehab center staff.

The Basics: What you should know

  • Social Security and Medicare numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Primary doctor’s name
  • Name of any specialists, i.e. Cardiologist, Oncologist
  • Contact information for a close neighbor or best friend
  • Any medications they take and the appropriate dosage
  • Name of their pharmacy
  • Do they have Medicare and a Supplemental or an HMO?
  • What are their major illnesses and health history?
  • Do they have Long Term Care Insurance? Policy number?
  • Does the LTC policy have an Elimination Period? How long?
  • What is the daily benefit of the LTC policy?
  • Where do they bank? Account numbers?
  • Where are their important documents kept?
  • Do they have End of Life documents? A DNR?
  • Who is their Medical Surrogate?

Some older adults are reluctant to share their personal information. They may be secretive or suspicious. Share with them that it is out of concern, a necessity in today’s age due to HIPPA privacy laws. Be willing to share or exchange similar information with them. This will help your parents from feeling threatened. Your parents may be more receptive if you try to collect this necessary information a little at a time. Choose a few questions to start and then follow up later with others. Prioritize what you need to know, usually the identifying numbers and medical information is first.