The Book Where You Look

When you need medical info for your aging parent, are you up to your elbows in paper and still not able to find what you need? Stop what you’re doing right now and put together a Medical Portfolio for each of your elders. I’ve got clear directions right here.

You’ll be doing the happy dance the next time you need a list of their meds, the date of their last cardiology visit, their Medicare number, or the fax number for the pharmacy. It will be all in one place – the Medical Portfolio!  Ingenious, I know!

Grab a folder (try to get one with a plastic cover) in a bright color with pockets. You could even get a binder.

Make labels for the following tabs:

  • Medication List
  • Allergies
  • Med Providers
  • Pharmacies
  • Med History
  • Medicare/Ins Cards
  • Insurance Info
  • Visit Summaries

Gather the following info and place it behind the listed tab:

Medication List

  • List each prescription (Rx) medication that is taken, its dosage (per time of day), the time of day it’s taken.
  • Next to each Rx medication, list the pharmacy where it is filled and, if available, the Rx prescription number for that med.
  • List each Over The Counter (OTC) med that is taken, its dosage and time of day it’s taken.
  • List each vitamin/mineral/herbal supplement that is taken and the dosage.
  • If desired, note where the OTC and supplements are purchased and how often.
  • You can also list the prescribing doctor for each of the Rx medications, if multiple docs are involved.


  • List all medication allergies that your elder has.
  • If possible, describe the reaction that occurs when the allergic medication is taken.
  • List any food allergies or specific food avoidances (i.e. dairy-free or sugar-free)
  • If seasonal allergies occur, this is the place to describe them as well.

Medical Providers

  • Start with their primary care doctor (PCP). List the name of the PCP, the office address, phone and fax number.
  • If your elder has a nurse practitioner or office assistant that they love, list their names here with the PCP.
  • List office hours/days of the week when the office is open and doc is available. (You know they almost are all gone on Friday afternoons!)
  • List every specialist that your elder sees regularly (at least annually) with their office address, phone and fax number. Be sure to specify what area of specialty for that doctor (i.e. Dr. John Doe, Cardiology)
  • Remember to include imaging centers, laboratories or other specialty clinics that your elder uses. This includes chiropractors and therapists too.


  • List each of the pharmacies that are used by your elder (retail and mail order), along with the address, store # if applicable, phone and fax number.
  • If a pharmacy is used for a specific type of prescription (i.e. antibiotics are always sent to Pharmacy Store #0000), please note that here.

Medical History

  • This is where you do your best to be brief, but informative.
  • List any surgeries that your elder has had, along with approximate dates.
  • List any procedures that your elder has had in the last 5 years (ex. colonoscopy, mammogram, ACL repair, cortisone shot), along with your best estimate of the date and result if applicable.
  • Use this section to describe any diagnosis of conditions, illnesses or special needs.
  • Go back further than 5 years if necessary to be inclusive of your elder’s pertinent health history.

Medicare/Insurance Cards

  • Place a copy (front and back) of your elder’s Medicare card, their supplemental insurance card (if applicable), and their Rx drug insurance card.
  • If your elder has insurance through a former employer or union, you’ll want a copy of that card as well.
  • If your elder has vision, dental or other non-Medicare coverage, include those cards or basic info here.

Insurance Info

  • If your elder has original Medicare and a Medigap (or supplemental) insurance plan, each plan has an assigned letter (A, B, N, etc.). Get the coverage summary for your elder’s plan and put it in this section.
  • AARP United Healthcare has one of the best websites for listing Medigap coverage. Search for a plan using your elder’s zip code and, once you’ve located the plan your elder is on, print out the chart that shows what deductible, if any, they pay and what specifically is covered under Medicare Part A and Part B for that plan.
  • You know those Rx drug formularies that you or your elder get in the snail mail every fall for the coming year? Well, find the Rx meds that your elder uses in those big formularies (hint: they look like phone books) and tear out the page where it gives the Tier and dosage limit info for each of those drugs. Put each of those torn out pages in this section.
  • Medication Tiers define how much your elder will pay for that med.
  • If you can’t find the formulary book, go online to your elder’s Rx insurance company website. Search for the formulary, search for each med and print out the sheet to put in this section.
  • What you want in this tab is a quick reference for costs and coverage. It doesn’t need to be thick or huge!

Visit Summaries

  • This is where you place the visit summaries that your elder gets (or that you request) when they visit their PCP or specialist.
  • If you keep those visit summaries, you’ll have continuity of information and it will help you coordinate care plans.
  • Care conference summaries can go here too.
  • This is also where you place any notes that you, your family member or your elder made during (or even after) each visit or care conference.

Now, grab this folder every time your elder goes to see a medical provider and you’re set!  No more digging, wincing, making faces as you try to remember what meds they took last year that caused an allergic reaction, what the name of that dermatologist is that is only seen annually or you go diving in search of the Medicare card.

You can thank me later (or now too, if you wish).  If you’re not doing the Happy Dance, I’ll be blown over with a feather.

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