When you are a family caregiver, staying organized can aid in reducing stress and anxiety. Here are a few tips for getting started.
When you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, days are often hectic and stressful. Since as many as one in six working adults is also a caregiver, getting organized and staying on task is vital. It’s the best way to lower stress and avoid forgetting something important, such as a physician appointment or prescription refill.
What can caregivers do every day to stay organized?
We’ve compiled a list of 5 suggestions you might find useful.
A Day in the Life of a Family Caregiver
1. Keep a calendar and daily task list
Work from a calendar, whether it’s an electronic version or an old-school planner. Use it to create daily task lists to follow. For example, when you pick up a 60-day supply of a loved one’s prescription, make a note on your calendar. Then add a reminder to your calendar to call in the refill on day 50 or 52, depending on insurance requirements.
By creating and continuously updating your calendar and to-do list, you will likely find your stress level becomes more manageable. Knowing what days will be busiest also allows you time to arrange help from a friend or family member.
2. Manage clutter around the home
When a senior has a chronic or life-limiting health condition, physician appointments and follow-up tests are common. You may find the paperwork that accompanies these visits to be overwhelming. Supplies and medications also add to the clutter.
Another important task organized caregivers complete each day—sometimes several times daily—is putting things away or shredding unneeded documents. Have a place for everything, and try to shred or pitch items you no longer need.
3. Conduct a medication and supply inventory
Every few days, check to make sure you have an adequate supply of medications and any necessary supplies. It will probably help to create a list of each product or medication your family member requires, and where to get it.
Your goal should be to stay ahead, especially while COVID-19 is making it more challenging. Shipping is backlogged, so supplies will take longer to arrive. Some health care providers have reduced staffing to only the most essential employees, meaning response time might be delayed.
4. Update medical history and files
When a loved one has multiple physicians involved in their care, keeping records organized and up-to-date is an important task. If you get behind by even a few days or weeks, trying to catch up can be overwhelming.
Some family caregivers prefer to keep a hard copy of a calendar with a binder divided into sections for different purposes. For example, you may want sections for:
- Physician visit notes and follow-up requirements
- Hospital discharge instructions
- Results from tests and bloodwork
- Copies of prescription warnings and instructions
Some families find online platforms, such as Google Docs or Trello, to be good avenues for staying organized. They also make it easier for loved ones to access information from different locations.
5. Utilize a medication tracking system
In the course of a busy day, it’s easy to forget which medications a loved one has taken and which ones are still needed. You can create a tracking spreadsheet to print and leave at their bedside. Note what times each prescription should be taken and add spaces to check off every dose.
You might also find it helpful to use an electronic medication reminder system, such as MedMinder. These devices utilize Wi-Fi to send an alert when it’s time for a medication. Some can even notify an adult child or caregiver if a dose is missed.
When It’s Time for More Care
If you are struggling to keep up with an older family member’s needs at home, a senior living community might be the solution. How to Talk to Your Parents about Senior Care Options offers helpful tips for discussing this transition with your family member. You can also call The Wesley Community at (518) 587-3600 with any questions!