A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to present to a local support group for caregivers about organizing. These amazing folks are juggling their own work and family responsibilities along with helping out a sick or elderly loved one. Our population is aging and this situation is becoming increasingly common: almost half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent over 65 and are also raising or supporting a child. With so many people in the so-called sandwich generation, it’s important they find ways to ease some of the burden of daily tasks. If this is a challenge you are dealing with, here are some tips to make life as a caregiver a little easier.
Create a safe home environment
One way to ease your mind as a caregiver is to address the physical environment where your loved one is living and make it as safe as possible. The most obvious way is to remove tripping hazards such as area rugs, cords, and clutter on the floor. Measure all walkways in the home and keep at least three feet of clearance for easy maneuvering. Adequate lighting is also essential for safety. Make sure spaces are well-lit but not so bright that glare is created, making visibility difficult.
Reducing clutter in the home not only makes it safer but also easier to clean and maintain. If you or your loved one struggles to get rid of things, here are a couple of blog posts that may help.
The Emotional Challenge of Decluttering
How to Purge Your Stuff
Set up systems for daily tasks
As a caregiver, there are many repeated tasks that can be made easier. Organizing weekly medications requires time and attention, so consider setting up multiple weeks at a time. Maintaining an updated medication list helps with this task and is also important when going to doctor’s appointments. Keep a copy of the list on your phone so you always have it on hand and can forward to a medical provider if needed.
Basic organizing tools can be a big help when juggling all the work being a caregiver entails. A calendar is essential for keeping track of appointments, but consider maintaining a digital version so you can easily add repeating events and share the schedule with family members. A simple filing system can help organize paperwork for insurance purposes. And keeping a written record of care instructions will ease your mind if you can’t be there and someone else has to fill in.
One final idea is to compile a medical folder for your loved one with all their essential information in case they require a trip to urgent care. Include details like a list of medications, allergies, doctors, and their medical conditions, along with a copy of their do not resuscitate order and medical power of attorney. Insurance information and photo ID should also be included. Keep this folder in a prominent spot and let other members of your caregiving team know where to find it.
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Make it fab!