Fall River Jewish Home

Tips to Stay Organized as a Caregiver

If there is one word to describe caregiving, overwhelming fits the bill. It can be a 24/7 job that takes a toll mentally, emotionally and physically.

Caregiver Duties

Caregiving deals with a variety of needs, all of which involve a multitude of tasks. Consider the areas a caregiver needs to handle:

  • Meals
  • Grooming
  • Personal care
  • Medical assistance like giving medication
  • Help moving around the home
  • Transportation to and from the doctor
  • Insurance forms
  • Financial decisions
  • Person in the middle between the doctor and patient
  • Providing emotional support to the patient

Many caregivers are the sole person handling all of these chores and more. But even if you only do some of them, the work can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

Helping a loved one when he or  she is sick is part of the family pact. It gives you a sense of being needed and a chance to show love and gratitude. But it can also be a demanding task (to put it mildly).

Every caregiver owes it to herself to investigate ways to become more organized. This can reduce stress and streamline your efforts.

Here is a look at ways to stay organized as you begin or carry on with your caregiving.

The Right Attitude

The first step is to develop a proactive, positive attitude. If you face each day feeling in charge, you develop a sense of being in control, which reduces anger and passivity in the face of the many emergencies and vicissitudes that come with the caregiving experience.

With a can-do attitude, you are more likely to approach your day as a problem solver, figuring out what needs to be done and taking incremental steps to achieve it.

Also, people who feel in control of their life are more open to asking for and listening to useful advice. There is no point trying to reinvent the wheel–it takes way too much time and energy.

If you have the right attitude, you will naturally understand that your needs are as important as that of the patient. This will keep you more attuned to your health needs, physical limits and time for socializing and emotional reassurance.

Organize Medications

One of the most important jobs for a caregiver is giving the proper medication at the right time. Use segmented pill containers with slots for hours of the day and days of the week.

Keep a master list of medications with doctor details, insurance information, pharmacy locations, phone numbers and hours of business. Find out where you can get prescriptions filled after normal working hours. Most larger population centers have them.

Keep Doctor Information Updated

Emergency medical problems are a fact of life for caregivers. To make a trip to the ER or the doctor go smoothly, keep all the latest medical information in one spot and ready to take with you. It should list all doctors, their contact information and the medications they have prescribed, as well as a basic medical and health history.

Don’t forget the necessary insurance forms and cards. Keep cash with the list for taxis, food on the go, and miscellaneous expenses. Add whatever will make an unexpected medical trip go more smoothly.

Organize Paperwork

Keep contact information for family, doctors, others to contact in an emergency, transportation services, and other important data in one place. Update it regularly. Some people find the use of a binder works well.

Be sure to include the names and numbers of backup care if something happens to you or you need time off.

Have ID and other critical information for you and the patient handy in an envelope. Include information about insurance, driver’s licenses, social security numbers, organ donor wishes, living wills, power of attorney, bank accounts and credit cards.

Gather important personal information in one spot, such as marriage licenses, citizenship papers, military records, safety deposit boxes, property and mortgage information and vehicle information.

Make Use of Technology

If you don’t use it yet, learn how to use email for communicating with family and healthcare workers.

Experiment with Evernote or Dropbox to store and share critical information. AARP has a video online that explains how to use them, as well as helpful suggestions for other ways technology can leverage your time as a caregiver.

A smartphone or a tablet can be highly beneficial. It will simplify your life, letting you take information with you wherever you go. There are also apps, such as Balance for Alzheimer’s CaregiversCaregiver’s TouchCareZone, and many more that can help you stay organized as a caregiver.

Becoming and staying organized as a caregiver helps you provide the best care, whether that is emotional support or help with practical matters, such as insurance issues, medical care, or being a communicator between your loved one and his health care team.

Do you have any caregiver tips you would like to add to the list and share?

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