No one wants to think about dying, but it's going to happen to each of us sooner or later. While
approaching the topic of death and dying may be difficult for caregivers, family members as well as
the elderly should try to organize and prepare for the end ahead of time, to reduce the stress,
confusion, and the necessity of making serious and sometimes confusing decisions regarding the
care and disposition of a loved one.
A variety of checklists for seniors or their caregivers may help to organize funeral arrangements and
decisions regarding funeral services, contacting relatives, selling a home, shutting off utilities, down
to where lists of insurance policies and bank account information are kept, right on down to who will
deliver the eulogy at the funeral service.
Pre-Death Planning Checklist
While this list is by no means all-inclusive, it should give you an idea or help guide you to
determining what type of arrangements need to be made prior to the death of a loved one:
1) Prepare a phone list or address list of individuals you want to be notified in the event of a terminal illness or death.
2) Designate a trusted family member, child, or friend to serve as your executor. This person needs
to have information and locations for your insurance policies, bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, and bills, so that accounts may be canceled, closed, or paid off.
3) Place a reminder in your file to contact the Social Security Administration or the Veterans
Administration of the death along with any relevant Social Security or identification numbers.
4) Create a contact list of utility service providers, newspaper delivery, and postal service delivery
for easy cancellation of services.
5) If your parent or loved one has pets, make arrangements ahead of time about who will take on
the care of those pets.
6) Designate a Durable Power of Attorney to make health care decisions in the event your parent or
yourself is unable to make rational medical decisions regarding health care. At this time, make sure any Advance Directives or DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) documents are placed in an easy-to-access file and that a copy of such documents is/are made available to your parent's physicians.
7) As part of the funeral arrangements, ask your parent what information he or she would like
provided in an obituary, or whether or not they even want one. At the same time, ask your parent to determine what type of funeral or memorial service they would prefer.
8) Purchase burial plots or make arrangements for cremation or burial ahead of time. Discuss such
arrangements with your parents or with spouses.
9) Organize your finances ahead of time and make sure records are up-to-date and easily
accessible to whomever is designated to take care of closing accounts or paying off balances.
Documents should be together in one location and include bank details, life insurance policies, birth certificates, wills, deeds to the house, or any other pertinent information that may be necessary for the executor to close accounts, make payment disbursements, access funds and so forth.
10) Talk about any special needs or requirements of your parent in regard to their burial or
cremation. Do they want their ashes scattered? Do they want to be buried in a traditional casket or in the increasingly popular "green burial" method?
Funeral Arrangements: Putting It All Together
Talking about the death of a loved one is difficult, but don't leave things to chance.
Whether or not your parent has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it always pays to talk about
such concerns ahead of time. Don't leave anything to chance.
Seniors and adult caregivers over 40 years of age should have some type of death planning
arranged or at least in the discussion phase. Write it down, keep track of it, and designate someone
to organize the information and put it together into an easily accessible format for family members.