As many of you may know too well, caregiving is often hectic and stressful, and could easily be a full-time job on its own because no two days in senior living are the same. The fact that almost 60% of caregivers are also juggling family and career responsibilities makes its demands even tougher. It’s easy for caregivers to feel overwhelmed, which is why it’s so important to stay organized and keep ahead of the game as much as possible. If you’re balancing caregiving with a hectic schedule, here are some strategies to help stay focused and proactive:
- Commit to a calendar. No matter how sharp your memory is, it’s not going to work anymore to keep a running schedule in your head. Write every appointment into a single consolidated calendar that’s ideally digital and shareable with siblings and others who need access. Using Outlook or Google at work? You’ll most likely want to adjust for permissions and access; head to Microsoft or Google support.
- Keep a journal. Your caregiving responsibilities are huge; dial down the stress level by taking notes and keeping detailed records of all doctor visits and medical appointments. Capture all daily activity so that if you were to have to take an unexpected leave, someone covering for you would know where you left off. Write lists of each day’s goals and priorities and check them off as they get met (knowing that some will slide to the next day – more on that later).
- Prepare for the unexpected. Those of you who have had kids remember placing that hospital bag packed and ready at the door. It’s no different in senior living. Have a bag of essentials ready for unscheduled medical or ER visits that you can grab on your way out. If potential winter weather is an issue where you are, arrange for snow and ice removal ahead of time to minimize delays and headaches. Stay ahead of potential utility outages with plenty of flashlights, bottled water, and batteries on hand.
- Create an emergency folder. Have both a hardcopy and digital/shareable folder ready of all Dad’s current list of medications; insurance and ID info; contact information for doctors and pharmacies; and any other legal docs that would be helpful, such as a Living Will or Power of Attorney. Head here for a more detailed list of must-haves.
- Manage medications and dosing. With half of older Americans taking 5 or more medications, managing prescription drug regimens is potentially confusing and even potentially dangerous if not attended to properly. The CareZone app is hugely helpful, letting you create a shareable list of medications; track blood pressure, glucose levels, and other vitals; and arrange for reminders for prescription refills and pill taking time. It can even help you arrange for home delivery of medications. Download the free app here.
Have some other ideas to share? Tell us in comments! Or if you’re wanting to explore perhaps more sustainable lifestyle options for you and your loved one, download our guide to your Senior Living options.