The practice of staying organized can help anyone at almost any age, but it is particularly beneficial when it comes to taking care of an aging parent. For caregivers, balancing responsibilities at home and work can be challenging because they may feel they’re being pulled in two different directions. Also, a caregiver may be overwhelmed upon discovering the full scope of what is involved in the caregiving process. However, the organization tips below can help provide caregivers with a tighter focus and a better handle on their loved one’s circumstances, while alleviating some of the potential stress.
Here are some suggestions to help you organize and simplify your caregiving role:
Keep Track of Medications. Begin by setting up a full-sized medication container according to the days and times that the pills need to be taken. Also, make sure to have a week’s worth of medication on reserve in case something comes up so that your loved one won’t run out of any pills. Traditional and electronic calendars and reminders can be helpful in this process.
Some caregivers find it helpful to maintain a chart or spreadsheet to keep track of the following information for their aging parent: names of medications; their respective strength and dosage; the purpose of each medication, such as blood pressure, thyroid, dementia, blood thinner, bone density or pain; and any special instructions.
You may even want to make a copy of the medication list for each family member. When a loved one goes to an appointment or is admitted into the hospital, the family member in attendance can bring this list, which will instantly provide the medical staff with important information.
Maintain a Folder with Information. Use a folder to keep track of important information so that it is all in one place. The folder can be filled with phone numbers for your loved one’s doctors, pharmacy and other important contacts; prescription names and dosages; health insurance information; medical cards and any other critical documents that you need to keep handy.
Plan Ahead. When possible, try to plan ahead to help avoid undue stress and have a better handle on time management. Plan work and other responsibilities around your loved one’s appointments and make sure an alternate caregiver is available when needed. It can also be useful to be certain all members of the caregiving team are clear about their duties. This can help prevent any time being wasted.
Make a Daily List. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it may be useful to maintain a daily list of to-do’s and focus on three priorities each day. To remain organized, try to write all tasks down in the same place; otherwise it could become a futile process.
It is important to note that caregivers should use the organization tips that are right for them. Once you determine the record keeping and organization skills that are appropriate for you, you should feel a sense of relief and discover more time to experience the rewarding side of care giving.