If you are currently serving as an informal caregiver for an aging in place spouse, relative or friend you’re not alone. According to the latest figures, over 50 million Americans provide care to a loved one every year. One of the keys to staying refreshed as a caregiver is organization. If your organizational skills could use a little fine-tuning, the perfect time to make changes is at the start of a new year. Here are five organizational tips that will help you improve your caregiving efficiency.
Poor Time Management Feeds Caregiver Stress
Although being an informal caregiver is highly rewarding, it comes with daily challenges that can trigger caregiver stress, like:
- Social isolation
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety and depression
- Substance abuse
- Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
- Depressed immune system
- Financial difficulties
- Marital/relational problems
Poor time management can worsen these problems and, if they persist, caregiver burnout is possible- which ultimately affects the quality of life for both you and your care recipient.
Organizational Tips for Informal Caregivers
As a caregiver, staying more organized starts with these five tips:
1. Keep a digital calendar
Most professional caregivers use electronic calendars for keeping track of client appointments, activities and medications- so why not you? There are even digital calendar apps available that you can easily download to your mobile device.
Once it’s downloaded, use your caregiving calendar to separate your personal tasks and engagements from those of your loved one. Having a visual reference of how your daily activities overlap will help you manage your time more efficiently while also reducing clutter!
2. Anticipate future needs
No matter how hard you try, your loved one’s condition is likely to get worse. Anticipate those inevitable health changes by learning as much as you can about their disease or illness. Even if you never intend to use them, research potential care resources in the community, like home care agencies, long-term care facilities or a geriatric care manager.
While planning-ahead include interested family members in the discussion. Also, don’t forget to plan for weather or health-related emergencies that might crop up during the year.
3. Find products that lighten your workload
Finding some elder care products that can lighten your workload will make life more enjoyable for you and your care recipient. With today’s technology there are all kinds of handy gadgets that might make a difference in how you and your loved one approach activities of daily living (ADLs).