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The "Just in Case file"

Adventures in Eldercare March 2012

Last summer, my 92 year old Aunt Mary boarded a plane at the Thunder Bay airport with the intention of attending her grand-son’s wedding in Toronto. Aunt Mary has only one daughter and she and her family live in Scarborough. There are two important things to understand about this story; Aunt Mary, a widow for over 20 years, lived on her own in her own home, did her own shopping and banking and cared for a large outdoor garden, she was extremely indepen

dent. The second point is that she was intending to return from the wedding on Monday, three days later. You can probably surmise that Aunt Mary never did return to Thunder Bay, she had a dizzy spell, ended up in hospital, her memory has failed her and she is now in a long-term care facility near her daughter’s home in Scarborough. Since that time her daughter has tried unsuccessfully to take care of her affairs from a distance but important documents cannot be found and because of privacy rules, no one will talk to the daughter regarding any of her mother’s bank accounts or her safety deposit box. All of this could have been avoided if Aunt Mary had a “Just in Case File”. Unexpected events occur all the time. We cannot avoid them but we can be prepared for them.

Rhonda Latreille, CEO of Age-Friendly Business in Vancouver suggests that the following items be readily available in the “Just in case file” and have such a file will certainly go a long way in decreasing the stress levels of all concerned.

  1. Vital Statistics. Self, partner, children, beneficiaries.

  2. Location of Will. (and of partners if applicable)

  3. Safety Deposit Box. Location and details

  4. Powers of Attorney. For financial and personal care

  5. Funeral arrangements. All details of service as well as Cemetery location

  6. Names of advisors, accountants, lawyers and other professionals

  7. Location of important documents (Birth certificates, marriage certificates, citizenship and passports, medical records)

  8. Household Accounts. (Bank account information, investment account information, other investments and pension plan information)

There was no way for my Aunt Mary to know that she would never return to her home in Thunder Bay, but if there had been a “Just in Case” file available to her daughter much of the frustration for her daughter could have been avoided or at least minimized.

Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors, to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare can be contacted by phone, 519-429-2644 or the web-site,

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