Factors to Consider if You Want to Stay Home Longer as You Age

Most people want to stay in their homes as long as possible when they get older.

Attorney David Edwards and Elder Care Advisor Melissa Coulter discuss factors that can help you stay at home as long as possible.

There are five safety concerns you should be aware of as you get older.

In addition, it’s beneficial to:

  • educate yourself,
  • listen to those you trust, and
  • be willing to accept help.

How to Stay at Home Longer

elderly driving

The Driving Talk: How to Talk to Your Elderly Parents About Driving

Adult children face many difficult conversations with their parents, but the hardest may be how to talk to their elderly parents about driving. Before approaching this sensitive topic, it’s best to understand what driving means to them — and it goes much deeper than their ability to still run errands.

What Driving Really Means to Our Aging Loved Ones

Whenever facing the challenges that come as our parents age, it can be really beneficial to try and imagine walking a mile in their shoes. Think back to when you first got your driver’s license. What did it mean to you? How did that first taste of independence feel?

Getting your license allowed you to get your first job, meet up with friends, and explore the world on your terms. Driving, particularly in the United States, is the beginning of adult life. And for many seniors, the loss of driving feels like the end of adult life. Imagine that for a minute and let it sink in.

How would it feel to lose your ability to drive?

Your aging parents are reluctant to give up driving because there’s more at stake than convenience. Driving is one of their last connections to life as a fully functioning adult. By this point in their lives, they’ve likely given up their career, downsized from the family home, stopped participating in certain hobbies or activities, and have started saying goodbye to friends and loved ones on a regular basis.

This is A LOT of change, loss, and grief for any human to face.

When they cling to their car keys, we shouldn’t be surprised. To them, driving is a connection to who they were and the life they lived.

Many seniors are aware of the safety risks they face as aging drivers. They also know there are not a lot of alternative ways to get around town. Rationally, they may know that their driving isn’t as sharp as it used to be. But handing over keys to your kids or your doctor is not a rational decision. It’s filled with emotions they may not fully recognize or understand.

So, when the time comes, approach this topic gently. They deserve your empathy and compassion. They are navigating one of the most difficult times in the human lifespan.

How to Know When It’s Time for the Driving Talk

If you’re trying to determine if your parents should stop driving, remember this crucial point:

It’s about their ability not their age.

While it’s true that drivers over the age of 75 have an increased chance of fatal crashes, this has more to do with their susceptibility to injury rather than their driving ability. In addition, keep in mind that aging affects everyone differently. Your 80-year-old mother may be more alert and in better overall health than her younger counterparts. People well beyond 65 can be safe and competent drivers.

One of the best ways to assess your parents’ driving is to observe it firsthand as a passenger. You should also talk with people who ride with them and pay attention when you’re following them (if you’re going somewhere together in separate cars).

Gathering first-hand information is step one. Step two is to answer these questions from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA):

  • Are they getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
  • Have you noticed new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
  • Have they received a ticket for a driving violation?
  • Have they experienced a near-miss or crash recently?
  • Have they been advised to limit or stop driving due to a health reason?
  • Are they overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
  • Are they taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
  • Have they received a ticket for impaired driving?
  • Have you noticed them speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
  • Are they suffering from any illness that may affect driving skills?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to talk with your parents about their driving. This may not mean they should stop driving, but they should begin to take steps to protect themselves, such as:

  • Only driving during daytime hours
  • Avoiding highways
  • Avoiding morning and afternoon rush hours
  • Refraining from long road trips

It’s likely time for your parents to stop driving if car accidents are becoming frequent, they’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition (such as dementia), or are on medication that impairs driving ability.

Tips for a Successful Driving Talk

If you’ve decided it might be time for your elderly parents to limit or stop driving, here are a few tips to make the difficult conversation a little easier:

  1. Be prepared. Tell them why you’re concerned using the information you’ve gathered first-hand and/or from others. You should also mention any of the above questions from the NHTSA.
  2. Be sensitive. Don’t talk down to them. They are still fully-grown adults, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. You want to establish an environment of working with them not dictating decisions about their life. Dig deep to approach this difficult situation with empathy and compassion.
  3. Pick the right person. Whoever leads the conversation should be a close friend or family member whom the driver “hears” the best. You may choose to have a one-on-one or group conversation. You know your parent best, so make choices that will best achieve a positive result and protect their dignity.
  4. Use the right phrasing. Using “I” statements will go over better than “you” statements, which can be interpreted as accusatory and result in defensive reactions. For example, “I’m concerned about your safety when you’re driving,” will be much better received than, “You’re no longer a safe driver.”
  5. Use examples. If someone you know has recently stopped or limited their driving, suggest that your parent talk with them, particularly if this person is happy with their decision and has had success using other forms of transportation. If no one comes to mind, you can find plenty of examples online.
  6. Highlight alternatives. They’ll have concerns about getting to appointments, running errands, and seeing friends if they don’t drive. Make sure you have detailed answers about alternative modes of transportation, such as GoGoGrandparent which offers Lyft and Uber rides without having to use a smartphone, or options offered by your county, which we’ll discuss more in-depth below.
  7. Expect pushback. They may be defensive or dismissive of your concerns. And that’s understandable with such a huge life change, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t heard you. They probably need time to think about it and let things sink in. At the very least, you’ve opened up a dialogue and begun the process of taking an important step.

Alternatives to Not Driving

Before you talk with parents about not driving, it’s important to know what transportation alternatives are available in their area.

Public Transportation. Most drivers over the age of 65 live in rural or suburban communities where public transportation is limited, but this option is still available for many seniors. If your parents is uncomfortable using public transportaion, ask your local transit agency about a “travel training” course.

Ride-Share Services. For seniors, especially those uncomfortable with apps, the best ride-share option is GoGoGrandparent. This service allows people to use ride-share services Uber and Lyft without a smartphone. Your aging loved one just calls GoGoGrandparent, follows the easy prompts, and a car will pick them up wherever they are. You can also call 1-855-GOGO-USA for more information. If your aging parents are comfortable with apps, they can use Uber and Lyft directly. Both companies have pilot programs geared toward seniors.

County Transportation. Most counties offer door-to-door transportation services for little or no cost, specifically for seniors.

Hired Caregivers. Another option for those who need assistance would be hired caregiver services. Most will provide transportation as part of their service along with an escort to assist with equipment, carrying bags, etc. These services are typically private pay and the rates are around $20-25 per hour. Lower income seniors can qualify for Community Care which would be free as part of those services. (This requires an application, financial information, etc. to qualify.)

And Last But Not Least — You. Yes, you. Not for every ride they need, of course, but think about how they carted you around to band practice, baseball games, and movie nights with friends. You probably owe them a few rides. Plus, it’s a good way to catch up and check-in with them about how things are going.

The Last Resort – What to Do If They Won’t Stop Driving

Some aging parents won’t give up their keys no matter what information you present. Others won’t even change their behaviors — they’ll still drive at night, in the rain, and on highways at rush hour. So, what can you do if things seem really desperate?

Unfortunately, the options are limited in Illinois. Unlike most states, the Secretary of State will only accept information about potentially unsafe drivers from police officers.

Get their doctor involved. Seniors are much more likely to listen to a healthcare professional than to a family member. If a doctor feels that a medical condition or medication can impair your parents’ ability to drive, they can recommend that they stop. And Illinois law mandates that doctors must encourage patients to notify the Secretary of State within 10 days of becoming aware of those conditions.

Training and self-assessment. AARP offers a Driver Safety Program with a 90% chance of driver improvement. And 92% of participants say they’d recommend the course to a friend! When completed, these courses offer insurance discounts. For a more immediate and less involved option, the NHTSA offers an online Self-Assessment Course. AAA also offers online courses and assessments.

We understand that this is an incredibly difficult time for you and your family. The stress that comes with the challenges of aging can easily overwhelm. This is why we developed our Elder Care Advisor role. We believe that everyone deserves to feel supported and prepared as they care for aging loved ones. We evaluate your family’s needs, tailor a plan that’s just right for you, and leave you feeling well-prepared for whatever may come in the future.

If you would like immediate help from an Elder Care Advisor, we encourage you to call us at 217-726-9200 for more information or to schedule a consultation.

10 Early Warning Signs of Dementia and Legal Tools to Help

Increasing rates of dementia are creating unique challenges when it comes to aging in the United States. Currently, there are 5.7 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. It is expected that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men living past the age of 55 will develop the disease at some point. Between 2000-20015 deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 123%!

Our Elder Care Advisors work with families every day who are facing the challenges of living with dementia or living with loved ones suffering from dementia. We encourage you to give them a call at 217-726-9200 if you are struggling with an aging loved one.

10 Early Warning Signs of Dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great organization providing research and support. They’ve released a checklist that details the early warning signs of dementia (and compares them with what are “normal” age-related changes):

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgement
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Download the checklist here

Legal Planning Tools That Can Help When Someone Develops Dementia

Comprehensive and effective legal planning for families dealing with dementia is vitally important. Living with the challenges of dementia is hard, but without proper planning life is EVEN HARDER. And nobody wants to make things harder. At the very least, effective legal planning should include these three things:

  1. Making plans for healthcare and long-term care. Oftentimes, people with dementia get to the point where they can no longer safely live at home. At that point, expensive memory care is needed. Planning ahead for this massive cost can make things a little easier when the time comes.
  2. Making plans for finances and property. People with dementia often begin to have trouble with numbers, so it is very important that plans are put in place to protect them from the financial difficulties that can occur. These difficulties can arise from them being unable to properly handle their own finances or from others trying to manipulate them and gain access to things like bank accounts. (Read our series on Elder Fraud here.)
  3. Naming another person to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia. Getting a Power of Attorney in place is an incredibly important first step in protecting the person and the finances of the one developing dementia. Read more on the topic here: 9 Issues to Consider When Choosing Your Healthcare Power of Attorney.

Edwards Group Elder Care Advisors Are Here to Help

Our firm has watched as a growing number of families we know struggle with the challenges of aging. That’s why we created the Elder Care part of the firm. As we encountered more and more families who were stressed to their max, overwhelmed with the decisions that come with this time of life, and plagued by the guilt of “Am I doing the right thing for my loved one?” we knew there had to be a better way. We also saw tangible ways that our team, with their unique mix of experiences, could help make life a little easier for these families.

You can read more about what our Elder Care Advisors can help with here. If you’d like to speak to one of them, we encourage you to call 217-726-9200 to find out more about how they might be able to help your family.

Living Longer: It’s a Blessing, If You’re Prepared

Here’s some good news: people are living much longer these days! So much so that there’s a new field in estate planning. It’s called Life Care Planning. This type of planning doesn’t focus solely on a “death plan.” Instead, it focuses on using strategies to make the last decade of life a little easier and less stressful.

In this 4-minute video, Attorney David Edwards talks with NewsChannel 20 about the benefits of Life Care Planning. If you’re over 55 and concerned about the challenges you’ll face as you age — from paying for long-term care to protecting your hard-earned assets — you should consider putting together a Life Care Plan. It will give you peace of mind knowing you’ve successfully prepared yourself for the extra years you may experience.

We’d love to help you with this process. Give us a call at 217-726-9200. We can answer questions and help you set up an Initial Meeting. We hope to hear from you soon!

long-term care insurance

Should I Buy Long-term Care Insurance?

The outrageous cost of care is one of the biggest risks to those getting older. This question looms large in the mind of many who are of retirement age…

How will I (we) pay for care costs?

And many clients ask us…

Should we buy long-term care insurance?

There is a lot of confusion and fear around the long-term care insurance industry, but we still believe that long-term care insurance is the #1 best way to protect yourself from exorbitant care costs.

When we see a client who needs care and has long-term care insurance, it is usually a big relief! Their family already has plenty of things to sort out as far as the details of the care and the medical needs that are happening. When it comes to how to pay for it, all they do is sit back and let the insurance company write the checks. It’s a big load off for the family! And they get to focus on other important things during a really difficult time.

There are legal tools, like Nest Egg Trusts and VA and Medicaid benefit planning, that can be used to help plan for care costs. Long-term care insurance is just another financial tool that can be used. Some clients rely mostly on the legal tools and some rely mostly on the financial tool of long-term care insurance. Some clients rely on both types of tools — a kind of “belt and suspenders” approach to planning. We generally believe the more tools you have in the toolbox, the more effectively you can build a planning strategy.

How Does Long-term Care Insurance Work?

The industry has been in flux recently, creating a lot of fear around this topic. Currently, there are two types of long-term care insurance. One is kind of on its way out, and the other is more effectively addressing the problems that have emerged in the industry.

  1. Traditional long-term care insurance. You pay a premium on this policy, and when you need care, the insurance company pays so much a day or so much a month, for so many months OR until a set maximum amount of money is used up. (Some old policies have unlimited benefits, but in more recent years insurance companies have stopped selling the unlimited benefits kind.) With the traditional LTC insurance, what happens if you don’t need care? Do you get your money back? No, the insurance company keeps your money, and you’re out of luck. (Except in very rare and unique policies.)
  2. Hybrid long-term care insurance. This is a life insurance policy that has a special rider to allow you to tap into the money prior to death in order to pay for care. If you don’t end up needing long-term care, then the money goes to your family or beneficiaries just like life insurance would. Most people who buy LTC insurance these days are getting the hybrid type.

There are very few companies still selling traditional policies, and most people prefer the hybrid policies anyway, so there isn’t nearly as much risk as there used to be for the consumer. After some bumpy times, it appears as though the industry has figured out a better way to stay in business and provide a service to clients.

Should I Buy LTC Insurance?

Yes, it is a great idea for most people. If you can qualify medically, and if you can afford it, it is certainly something we urge you to strongly consider. As you age or as you begin to develop more health issues, the policies get more expensive. At some point, you may not be able to get a policy at all.

It is generally a good idea to consider buying LTC insurance in your 50’s or 60’s. It’s not necessarily too late if you’re in your 70’s, but it really depends on your health.

One great thing about LTC insurance is that it provides resources to pay for care at home. Care at home is very limited under Medicaid benefits, and yet the majority of people we speak to have strong preferences about staying at home as long as possible. You can get care at home under VA benefits, but sometimes the VA benefits are not enough to pay for all the care that is needed. A good LTC insurance policy will let you get plenty of care to stay at home as long as possible while you continue to age.

If you don’t qualify for LTC insurance, then you may want to pursue legal options such as a Nest Egg Trust to protect your assets and help you more easily qualify for future benefits that will help pay for care.

If you do qualify for LTC insurance, you may still want to consider a Nest Egg Trust as additional protections.

Over 55 years old? Here are three things you should know about nursing home care.


How Do I Check Into LTC Insurance?

If you are interested in checking into LTC insurance, you should chat with your financial advisor who can explain the various policies available. They can tell you some general options and estimated prices based on your situation.

To get more specific pricing and see if you qualify, you will need to go through underwriting. This involves a medical check up (such as taking blood samples, blood pressure, etc.) and also giving the insurance company permission to get copies of your medical history. Once the insurance company has this information, then they can give you a more specific price quote and options, which you can discuss with your financial advisor.

One last thing… WE DO NOT sell insurance. We are a law firm. However, we are familiar with a lot of advisors and can often recommend someone if you don’t have an advisor you’re already working with. Just give us a call at 217-726-9200.

Senior safety

4 Safety Categories for Seniors You Should Be Aware Of

Preserving independence and control as one ages is a major goal of many people we talk to on a regular basis. And with seniors who have a strong desire to preserve independence, come families with big concerns about safety. Is it possible for their aging loved one to remain independent AND safe?

Click on the video below to hear Elder Care Advisor, Sandy Eisenmann talk about safety for seniors and the main four categories you should be aware of. (This will take you to NewsChannel 20’s site.) Sandy is trained as a physical therapist, so she often helps families who are concerned about their loved ones safety at home.

Four categories of safety for seniors, along with a BONUS area to watch out for:

  1. Driving
  2. Cooking
  3. Falling
  4. Medication management
  5. [BONUS] Financial

In the video, Sandy shares what to look for and how to know if there might be a problem, as well as what you should do if you think a loved one’s safety or well-being is at risk. As always, if you have questions or concerns about an aging loved one, please give one of our Elder Advisors a call at 217-726-9200. You can read more about our Elder Advisors and what they do here.

safety; seniors; aging in place

Nest Egg Trusts: A Tool to Protect Your Property and Life Savings

There’s a real problem facing Americans over the age of 65 — the cost of nursing home care. It’s expensive and often unavoidable. A lucky few have enough income to cover the $80,000 per year cost. But how does the average person afford it?

Unfortunately, many “spend down” their property and savings so they can qualify for benefits. But…

There is another way.

You may have heard of an irrevocable trust, or what we call a nest egg trust. This common tool helps many families who want to protect assets and plan ahead for future aging and care costs.

Aren’t Trusts Just for Wealthy People?

It’s a common misconception that trusts are only for the wealthy. However, a nest egg trust is designed for regular, hardworking folks who have saved a bit for retirement. Many families who want to protect assets and plan ahead for future aging and care are deciding that a nest egg trust is the right tool for them.

So, What’s a Nest Egg Trust?

A nest egg trust is an irrevocable trust that protects your hard-earned savings and also helps you qualify for care benefits if you need some form of long-term care. There are many different types of trusts, and each depends on a person’s goals and situation. But the bottom line is they protect your property and savings so you can get the care you deserve without losing your entire financial legacy. You can read more about trusts and how they work here.

Isn’t That Too Good to Be True?

You qualify for Medicaid benefits AND you get to keep your hard-earned savings and assets? Yes, you do, but the nest egg trust involves a trade-off. To protect your assets, you must give up some control of them. What does this mean? It means any assets you put into the trust have some restrictions, so you can’t spend them any way you want anytime you want.

Of course, no one wants to give up control of their assets, but many families find that it is well worth the trade-off to protect their financial legacy (and save things like the family farm). They even find that the control they give up is much less than they expected.

How Do I Set Up a Trust — Isn’t It Complicated?

If you were to do it on your own, yes, it would be complicated. But with the help of an experienced and trusted elder law attorney, it’s not that complicated. And it’s well worth your effort. Properly planning for your future is one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones (and yourself!). Knowing your financial legacy is safe gives you a priceless amount of peace of mind.

How Can Edwards Group Help?

In addition to setting up a trust, we will help guide you through making decisions around the trust. We have more than a decade of experience in creating this type of trust for people — we know the problems to anticipate and address; we know how to make the decision-making process a bit easier; and we know the right questions to ask to make sure YOUR trust works for YOU and your unique family and circumstances. If you think a nest egg trust might be right for you, we encourage you to give us a call at 217-726-9200. We will be happy to review your situation with you and counsel you as to whether a nest egg trust is best for your circumstances and the goals you want to achieve.

To learn more on your own about nest egg trusts, download this FREE resource — Nest Egg Trusts: A Good Tool to Protect Property and Savings.

Download the Free Nest Egg Trust Case Study

save family farm

Over 55 years old? Three things you should know about nursing home care.

You may be a couple decades away from needing nursing home care, but the sooner you can understand and plan for the costs involved, the better.

Here are three truths every senior should know about nursing homes:


1. You’ll probably need nursing home care.

The likelihood you’ll need to pay for this type of care is high: 70% of Americans 65 and older will need some form of long-term care, and 35% will spend time in a nursing home.

2. It’s going to be expensive.

The odds that this care will be expensive? 100%.

Nursing homes in Central Illinois cost about $80,000 per year. That’s roughly $6,500 per month! Most people don’t have that type of monthly income during retirement.

3. Without proper planning, you’ll lose your hard-earned life savings.

If you don’t have enough income to cover the cost of care as you age, you will need to use your life savings and other assets to pay for nursing home care. That means your financial legacy, including things like the family farm, could disappear without proper planning.

Thankfully, with proper planning you can prepare, save your legacy, and get the kind of quality care you or your loved one deserves. Here’s one way to do it.

As a response to the challenges of aging in our current time, our firm has developed a process to plan ahead for the last decades of life, when so many people face financial and physical challenges. Life Care Planning looks ahead to the various stages that individuals and families may go through during the aging process, and creates a plan to make navigating that time a little easier and less stressful. Learn more about the 5 Stages of Life Care Planning here. If you’d like to take the first step toward planning, give us a call at 217-726-9200, and we’ll help you schedule your Initial Meeting.

2 Types of POAs: What They Can and Can’t Do

There are two types of power of attorney documents that you can use depending on what you might need done:

  1. healthcare power of attorney is able to help arrange your medical care or make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. As long as you are able to talk to the doctor yourself, then you will still decide your care. But if you can’t make decisions, someone else will have to help decide what  type of treatment or surgery you need, what prescriptions to get, where you will live, and even when to disconnect medical machines if you are being kept alive artificially. Your healthcare POA agent is legally bound to follow your healthcare preferences to the extent that they are aware of them. Your healthcare preferences should be made explicit through a conversation with your healthcare agent.
  2. You can also name a power of attorney for property. This person is responsible for decisions regarding your finances and assets. You can give this person as much or as little control as you like. They can be responsible for tasks like depositing checks, filing your taxes, managing your investments, or selling your property. Your financial POA agent can also hire accountants, attorneys, or financial advisors to help you and pay them through your accounts. The agent is legally bound to act in your best interest, doing only things that are best for you under your circumstances. They usually have access to handle your assets until your death or until you change your power of attorney document.

You may have heard of something called a durable power of attorney. In Illinois, every power of attorney is durable unless you specifically choose otherwise. So what does that mean? It means that if you get sick, the power of attorney is still valid and the agent you named can take action on your behalf. If it was not durable, then the power of attorney would expire after you got sick. Generally, you want powers of attorney to be durable because it is not helpful for them to expire when we need them most.

Also, keep in mind that the authority of your power of attorney ends at your death. The power of attorney is used to help someone act on your behalf while you are alive but unable to handle things yourself. Once you pass away, the power of attorney is no longer valid to take action. Instead your executor (or successor trustee) will take over and handle the after-death issues for your family.

What Happens if You Don’t Have a POA in Place and You Need One?

What happens if you never get around to signing a power of attorney, and you suddenly have a stroke and are not able to make decisions? Without a power of attorney, your family will have to ask a judge to name a guardian for you. This is a time consuming and expensive process that requires a doctor’s report, court filings, and official legal steps.

In the long-run, choosing to appoint a trustworthy power of attorney agent is a decision that will help protect your finances, your healthcare preferences, and even peace within your own family. Deciding about a POA ahead of time can help your family through emotionally draining decisions if you become incapacitated. Because of the importance of this document, it is a good idea to review your POA every couple years with your attorney. Creating an effective power of attorney document takes special care and attention, but is well worth it. If you would like to revisit your POA, you should schedule an appointment with your attorney.

Our website has a lot of great information on choosing good helpers like power or attorney agents:

If you’re ready to get your POAs in place, please give us a call at 217-726-9200 to set up an Initial Meeting.

Increase Your Quality of Healthcare With These 5 Steps

When you or a loved one are dealing with a lot of medical issues, or even “just one” complex issue, the paperwork can become overwhelming.

Over the years, Edwards Group has evolved into a comprehensive, interdisciplinary resource for families facing the challenges of aging. 

Elder Care Advisor Sandy Eisenmann recently discussed with me what people should consider when it comes to medical records and managing that information. “It really depends on the unique situation of each family, but these are a few of my generic recommendations…”

5 Ways to Organize Medical Records and Increase Your Quality of Care 

1. Keep all records until the charges associated with the procedure or diagnosis have been resolved. This is the minimum amount of time that you should keep the records or notes.

2. Keep ALL surgical and pathology reports. The surgical reports can be helpful if more related procedures are needed in the future. Pathology reports are important in case a disease recurs, but they can also be helpful to other family members who may need them as a reference.

3. Create a lists of ALL doctors, their speciality, and/or what they treated you for. It’s helpful to have this all gathered in one place, especially if you or your loved one are seeing multiple specialists.

4. Keep an updated and thorough history/timeline to help you explain the complex condition or to help other doctors more easily understand what has transpired.

5. Keep a current, up-to-date medication list. Many people may not think of this as “medical records,” but it is vital to receiving accurate care. Doctors’ offices don’t communicate with each other as much as you may think, so if you have multiple doctors, it’s important for you to know at all times what medicines you are taking and what the dosages are.

If there are generic or hereditary considerations, then all of these things can be especially important to keep track of so future family members can have better information if they themselves have to be treated for the same condition.

You may also want to consider starting a 3-ring binder to help you organize paperwork and track tests and appointments if the condition is complex or chronic. That way you can have ALL information connected to the condition in one place — doctors notes, test results, EOBs, co-pay receipts, support organizations, etc.

If you or a loved one needs help with the challenges of aging or dealing with chronic illness or disability, we encourage you to give us a call at 217-726-9200. Our Elder Care Advisors will be more than happy to discuss your situation and see if there are ways we can lessen the burden for your family.