Do You Want To Become An Organized Caregiver?
Caring for an aging parent or loved one is as rewarding as it is challenging. But by becoming an organized caregiver, you will be better prepared to meet those hurdles head-on — and overcome them.
As a family caregiver, you know that your role demands constant learning and adaptation. Balancing caring, work, and home life is no easy task, and things can feel overwhelming and chaotic at times.
However, becoming an organized caregiver can go a long way to ease your stress. For one thing, it can help you utilize your time and efforts more effectively.
Organization can also help when minor accidents to serious emergencies occur. That’s because you’ll already have the systems and documents to manage the situation in place.
Everyone’s organizational methods are unique. What some think is a chaotic mess could be a streamlined process for others.
When it comes to being an organized caregiver, the only correct technique is one that you’ll stick to. That means finding a system that matches your personality, schedule, and lifestyle.
Here are a few tips to help you as you become an organized caregiver.
Tips To Become An Organized Caregiver
Make A Routine
You likely already have a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule when it comes to your loved one’s care. From everyday chores to critical tasks, routinely assessing and modifying these routines can help you save time and energy.
There are many benefits of having a daily routine, such as:
- Promoting feelings of safety and security for vulnerable elders
- Knowing what to expect during your day/week/month, so you spend less time preparing or stressing
- Having a well-rested mind, since you spend less time making choices each day
As with anything, focus on being realistic and creating a structure that fits you and your loved one’s needs.
Make A System For Medication Management
You are probably familiar with medication organizers that sort your parent’s prescriptions by the time of day or the day of the week. These organizers work well — provided you stay focused when refilling it.
However, coordinating the schedule of the insurance company authorizations, pharmacy refill dates, your parent’s need for specific prescriptions, and your own routine can complicate a relatively easy task.
Preferably, most medications should let you pick up a week’s worth of medicine ahead of time. Having this extra on hand is helpful in case of sickness, bad weather, or anything else that can unexpectedly prevent you from getting a refill on time.
If your loved one has multiple prescriptions, it can be difficult to stay on top of the timing and incorporate it into your routine. In this case, you may consider using a physical or digital calendar or app to remind you about upcoming refill days and items.
Some states also permit doctors, pharmacies, and insurers to coordinate with patients to streamline monthly refills so everything will be ready for pickup on the same day. This process is referred to as medication synchronization or med sync.
This can be a valuable resource for family caregivers. Next time you visit the pharmacy, ask if this option is available in your state.
Find Senior Care Products To Streamline Everyday Tasks
It’s the little things that count, and products for elder care are no different.
Small yet beneficial changes can help make days more pleasant for you and your loved one. For example, if your loved one eats slowly due to a swallowing problem or another reason, plate covers (or serving covers) make sure their food stays warm throughout their meal.
Although something like this is minor, your loved one will appreciate having a warm meal from beginning to end.
There is a growing market for elders, such as a two-handled mug for those with limited dexterity. This gives them better control and independence and reduces the chance of spills.
These products can make it so much easier for you and your parent to manage daily living activities (ADLs).
Consider a few common problems or hassles that you come across as a caregiver, and look online for easy and affordable solutions. Unique products and DIY tricks for senior care can feel rewarding and potentially save you time and energy on everyday tasks — such as warming food more than once or wiping up spills.
Plan For Emergencies
An emergency could happen at any time, but fretting about an unexpected crisis does you no good. Instead, you should be proactive and create a plan for different scenarios. As you do, you should also consider minor details, such as clearing your driveway after it snows or keeping warm clothes ready for you and your parent.
You can also prepare a bag with supplies and instructions for an auxiliary caregiver for those times when you fall ill or get busy at work. Take your parent’s needs into account and plan for accidents and full-blown emergencies that they may be prone to. As you do, you also want to consider common environmental conditions that occur where you live.
Use a Health Journal To Track Your Loved One’s Needs
If you take a few notes every day, keeping a journal of your aging parent’s needs only requires a small time commitment. This task will also facilitate a smooth transition if you decide to hire a caregiver.
Moreover, a thorough record of your parent’s changing needs and conditions can be hugely beneficial during doctor’s appointments.
Keep A Personal Journal
In addition to keeping a journal for your loved one, you should also have one for yourself.
Journaling is therapeutic. You can let out your negative feelings, organize your thoughts, and have a way to establish and follow goals, whether they’re related to caregiving or your personal life.
If you struggle to keep a journal, consider purchasing an attractive notebook that will motivate you to use it. If you prefer typing more than writing, then use your computer.
Journaling is an excellent tool that empowers you to be more mindful about your emotional and physical wellbeing. This helps you track your limitations and assess how near you might be to caregiver burnout.
Use A Dedicated Calendar
Keeping a separate calendar for your duties is one of the best ways to become an organized caregiver. You can use this planner to stay on top of appointments, activities, respite care, and other commitments regarding your parent.
This tip may not work for everyone, as some may dislike keeping more than one calendar. Ultimately, it’s a matter of your preferences.
If you are comfortable with technology, you can download a calendar app on your phone. This tool lets you make entries for various activities (such as work and personal engagements), so you can visualize your schedule.
An electronic planner is also great for separating your personal activities from your loved one’s while still giving you an option for integration. An added advantage is that these allow you to easily communicate with others involved with your loved one’s care, such as sharing important details like appointments or availability.
Make A To-Do List
Using a planner or notepad to track your everyday tasks is an important part of being an organized caregiver. These activities can be related to your role, your job, or your personal life. Writing a list the day before can help you plan for the next day and make managing your time easier. Try to complete the least desirable or hardest tasks first — you’ll be relieved knowing it’s done and won’t spend the whole day thinking about it.
Decluttering may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you feel as if you can’t fit one more task into your schedule. But having an organized home can help you become an organized caregiver.
Doing so can save time and frustration in a crisis, during tax season, or just moving through your home. You don’t need a magazine-perfect organization system — it’s about striking a balance that fits your needs.
If you’ve neglected the clutter for a while, this task can seem daunting. But if you take it a little at a time, you’ll reach the end eventually.
Plan For Your Loved One’s Future Needs
Sadly, if your parent has a health condition, they may not fully recover. So it’s helpful for you and your loved one’s medical team to understand their illness, look for medical and emotional support online or in your area, and find nearby respite or long-term care services. You may never use these options, but it’s good to know what’s available.
Understanding how your aging parent’s condition can change in the road, including the level of care they could require and your potential options, is critical. This information will help you prevent surprises and be ready for any obstacles you encounter.
Get A Backup Caregiver
Not everyone has someone available to help with caregiving duties. However, you should make sure you have a backup plan in place in case of an emergency. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience health problems of their own, and as much as you try to put your loved one’s care first, other issues sometimes stop that from happening.
A good backup strategy means having someone you trust who lives close to your loved one and is willing and available to help when you need it. If you don’t have any friends or family who can assist, you might ask a neighbor if they could help.
In the same vein, you should also file documentation with an in-home care provider beforehand. You might consider having a paid caregiver visit your loved one a few times every month, so they remember who you are.
This will increase the chances of finding help in an emergency and offer peace of mind since you trust the service. No one wants to hire a stranger or rush to find help. Create a contact list for potential backup candidates and have it on you just in case.
Prepare An Emergency File
An emergency file can be a vital resource if something happens to your parent. It should contain:
- An updated medication list
- Identification and insurance information
- Contact details for doctors and pharmacies
- A copy of their medical power of attorney file
- Copies of advance directives
- Your loved one’s caregiving journal
You may add other documents and notes not included in this list. You could also consider making a file for yourself or even other family members.
All too often, caregivers fall into the trap of telling themselves they’ll get organized but never doing so. You can’t understate the importance of planning and preparation for an unexpected crisis.
Meetcaregivers Can Help
These are just a few tips to help you become an organized caregiver. Of course, there are many more ideas out there. If you have any of your own, please let us know in the comments!
If you need a break or just a little extra help, we can help you find the perfect in-home caregiver for your loved one.
Additionally, we assist with meal delivery, transportation, and more — Call 1-888-541-1136 for more information.
For more resources and tips for caregivers, visit the blog.
- Bradley Bursack, Carol. “Strategies for Getting (and Staying) Organized While Caregiving.” AgingCare.com, 5 May 2020, www.agingcare.com/articles/strategies-for-getting-and-staying-organized-while-caregiving-164830.htm.
- Angelica. “Top Strategies for Being an Organized Caregiver.” Kapok Aging & Caregiver Resources, 21 Sept. 2020, www.multiculturalcaregiving.net/top-strategies-for-being-an-organized-caregiver/.