Nothing worth doing is easy. However, that does not mean everything worth doing has to be hard. Caregiving is one of the most worthwhile things we can do for ourselves and our loved ones. Here are some tried-and-true life hacks to help you make your life and the life of the person you are caring for simpler and more organized.
- Get to know Google Docs and Google Calendar: Google Docs can help keep everyone in your care team in the loop and up-to-date on your loved one’s health. Share doctor’s appointments in a Google Calendar. The care team can view and then follow up with notes on medication, symptoms or anything else important to your loved one’s care. Google Docs and Google Calendar can also be indispensable tools in long-distance caregiving. For instructions on how to use Google Docs, click here. For instructions on how to use Google Calendar, click here.
- Don’t neglect paper calendars: Google Calendar is great, but it also is useful to have a large wall calendar in your loved one’s home updated with important dates and appointments. Make sure the physical calendar and the Google Calendar always get updated at the same time.
- Keep important papers at hand: Always be prepared with a folder with a list of your loved one’s medications, doctors, important phone numbers and other related materials in your car. Or, scan and email the information to yourself so it is readily available on your smartphone. If there is an emergency, you will be prepared no matter where you are.
- Organize medicines: Get creative with organizational tools and think beyond the pill-of-the-day box. Use a toolbox, a tackle box or a craft box to store medication bottles in one place. Then transfer pills to the pill organizer for daily medication doses.
- Shop big: Stop making separate trips to the grocery store for two households. Try doing one big shopping trip to save time and gas. Bring a cooler or insulated bags for your own perishables, so they can stay fresh while you help your loved one. Also consider taking advantage of online purchase and pick-up options, now offered in select areas by Walmart and Loblaw grocery stores.
- Block off stairs: A safety gate for children or pets may help deter an older loved one from wandering beyond a certain point or accessing stairs. The gate provides a visual reminder as well as a physical barrier to someone with dementia or mobility issues, helping them to remain safely on one floor.
- Get a grip: Place four or five elastic bands around smooth drinking glasses. This should help your loved hold onto their beverage.
- Get a grip, part two: Buy a set of foam hair curlers. Remove the plastic insert. Place the foam roller around any thin utensil or tool your loved one has trouble gripping such as pens, forks or toothbrushes.
- Keep instructions at eye level: Use a pants hanger to hang up lists, reminders or recipes at eye level. Use the clips of the hanger to secure the paper. Then, use the hook to hang the recipe or list from a cupboard handle.
- Light up the night: Buy several night lights and install them along frequently-used paths, like the walk from the bedroom to the bathroom. Ensure the bathroom has night lights as well. Keep a flashlight by your loved one’s bed as well. Check and replace batteries frequently or buy a flashlight that can be plugged in to a nearby outlet.
Most importantly, always make sure that you are taking care of yourself. This may be the hardest task a caregiver has to face. Luckily, you do not have to go it alone. Make sure you schedule regular, dependable respite care so you have breaks to rest and recharge. Tap into your family and friend network or call ComForCare Home Care at 800-886-4044 to find out how ComForCare can help you take a break.