Organizing Mom Over the Summer

mom_and_meBefore this summer I wrote personally about my mother’s situation and how I hired a professional organizer in Florida to help her. My mom had lost her partner last July after 25 years of togetherness and is handicapped to boot.

When she came to visit this me this summer, it was such a whirlwind of “organizing” tasks that I wanted to share them with you so that you can:

  1. Help an aging loved one of your own.
  2. Use this information to get your own paperwork in order.

Keeping up with papers and this electronic age is no small feat for anyone these days, but add in physical limitations and lack of technology skills… and you have one sure way to create a paper monster and daily device frustration. So when my mom arrived in Mahwah this summer I quickly realized that a large part of her visit would be to help her feel she had her life back in order before her plane ride home.

She had a new computer that she didn’t really know how to use — especially when it came to email. She had a new iPhone that she didn’t know how to use. She had money in places “digitally” that she really didn’t know how to find and passwords that didn’t work.

I’m going to list many of the tasks that we completed while she stayed with me. Some of the items took minutes while some of the tasks took hours. But, without the help of a trusted person many of these tasks would still be undone causing her stress.

WAYS TO HELP A SENIOR OR YOURSELF:

  • mom_and_me2Address Book – My mom’s paper address book was quite the mess. She wanted to buy a new one and transfer all her information over. I encouraged her to let my teenagers (her grandchildren) data enter all her contact information into her new iPhone. She agreed and we used long car rides for this. She would read the information to my daughter or son and she/he would plug all her names, addresses and phone numbers. Then we created a Favorite List for her as well and taught her how to retrieve all her information.
  • Budget – My husband went over all her financials and created a simple spreadsheet and budget for her in Excel so she understands how much money is coming in and how much money should be going out. In order for her to be financially responsible for her own longevity she will truly need to stick to her budget. She definitely didn’t like the budget but she now knows how much she has, where her money is and where her money goes. It will be her choice on how to spend it. We even took her to our financial planner for a professional opinion.
  • Family Financial Contact Form – POSSE has shared this form many times with our clients. It is basically a customized list of one’s important professionals, account numbers, passwords etc. so that if God Forbid, something should happen to your loved one or my mother in this scenario, someone else can step in and know who to call in order to arrange for personal, financial and estate situations. This can be and was a tedious process getting these details in order, but well worth the time up front while my mom was sitting next to me and not in a crisis situation.
  • Birthday/Anniversary List – My mom wanted a list of all the children, grandchildren and extended family’s birthdays and anniversaries. (I also went through my Christmas Card list with her too in case she wanted any information from my address book.)

Questions – Of course there were other questions such as:

  • Where do you keep everything paper related in your new home?
  • Do you have a safe deposit box and if so, can we put both our names on the box, and can I have a key, and of course what is the address of the bank?
  • Where are your house keys, car keys, all keys?
  • Should something happen to you, who will take care of Tyke (her dog)? Can I have that person’s name and number?
  • Should you have an emergency, who is the person you would most trust to take care of your house in the interim?

What I thought would be a relaxing week with my mother turned out to be just like going to work with my mom as the client. I wanted to share this with you because it is extremely important to help our parents (if they are willing to be helped.) Now, I’m not saying that my mom is going anywhere soon. On a very selfish note though, I know that if something happens to her, I will be the “responsible” daughter dealing with her affairs. Since she moved a couple of months ago I haven’t even been to her home yet because she lives so far away. So, if something should happen to her I’d like to be as helpful and prepared as possible.

I hope you’ve been encouraged to help a senior or update your own paperwork and affairs. If any of this feels overwhelming to you and you would like help, please don’t hesitate to call me at 201-406-9643.

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