BOSTON (CBS) – The CRS Syndrome does exist. This disease begins around age 40 and it gets worse with age.

You can easily self-diagnose this disease. You walk into a room and you stand there. You utter the words “What am I here after?” You have CRS. You Can’t Remember Stuff!

Our brains being to shrink starting at about age 30. Just think what it is like if you are 80! So a gift you can give mom is to help her sort through all of the stuff she has been saving for years and help get it organized.

If you can get her stuff organized, her life and probably yours will be so much easier. Every mom I know has stuff she has been saving for years. I have some of my stuff in large labeled plastic bins which I figure my daughter will toss once I die.

As you start, remember this is mom’s stuff and if she has saved it, she perceives there is a value.

This will be a process. It will take more than a Sunday afternoon. Don’t just dump stuff! Spend the time to evaluate what you do find. Make three piles. Pile 1 gets shredded or tossed, Pile 2 is a maybe pile and we’ll see if we need it and Pile 3 is we need to keep this stuff in a safe place.

Set up a filing system that mom can access easily and print labels in large block letters so she can read them. Now start to collect the stuff from the various places that mom has stashed them.

Does she have a safety deposit box? Ask if you can go with her and take inventory of the contents? Where does she keep the key?

Begin to make lists of the important stuff in her life; people, accounts, medications, passwords, an inventory of the important papers.

Helping her get organized will ease some of her stress and will help you especially if you become more involved with her finances.

A handy resource book, Check List For My Family guides you thru getting your “stuff” in order. Available at AARP, bookstores or amazon. Helps you put your life in order by gathering in one place your online accounts, finances, legal documents, wishes about medical care and more. It tells you what you need and why and what’s missing and where to get it.

One more thing:

Start making lists, lots of lists. Make sure you leave a copy for mom and you should have a copy as well. Here’s a start:

  • Social Security number
  • Investments with account numbers
  • Pin numbers/passwords
  • Inventory of the safety deposit box & the key, where is it?
  • Important papers and where they can be located such as birth certificates, marriage license, deeds, titles to the cars
  • Insurance policies
  • Professional/Personal directory – basically her database
  • Regular monthly bills such as the telephone, electric, gas, rent
  • Credit cards numbers and the balances if any
  • Tax returns for the last 6 years
  • Estate planning documents
  • Prescriptions she is taking and why; check for drug interactions
  • Inventory of the home’s contents


Just opening the mail and organizing bills for an older person can become overwhelming. If they live nearby, ask them if they would like you to come by and help with the bill paying. They will sign the checks but you will balance the checkbook and take care of the paperwork for them. Emphasize that they are still in control. You are just the bookkeeper. If they live far away, consider hiring someone to help them.

AARP’s magazine published a list of essential documents that we all should have in regard to our personal health history.  They included:

  • Emergency contacts, including phone numbers and email addresses
  • Physician contacts, including specialists and dentists
  • Health insurance information
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Significant illnesses and surgeries, with dates
  • Immunizations and their dates
  • Allergies or other sensitivities
  • Results from most recent physical
  • Test results, eye, and dental records
  • Family health history
  • Opinions of specialists
  • Correspondence with providers


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.


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