Whether you are a caregiver tending to the needs of your loved one at home, or personal aide working in a facility, you would know that this job is a serious and very demanding job. At most times, you would feel that there are just so many things to do on a given day and too little time to do them all. At the end of the day, you feel dead-tired.
At home, you may be juggling work, caregiving tasks, hospital visits, household chores, and family duties as a spouse and a parent. At a facility, you find yourself literally running from room to room, responding to call lights, and just when there's a pile of things to do, your resident just wants to use the toilet, and the whole process is taking more than half an hour. Having these frantic scenarios daily, you easily conclude that this will be your typical day as long as you remain a caregiver.
Well, not necessarily so.
Doing day-to-day management and getting organized are the keys to maintaining control over what happens in a day. Although caring for someone will have unexpected events happening from time to time, having some predictability and a system of doing daily activities will do a lot of good for your sanity. Here are some helpful tips for you:
- DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES. One technique to help you prioritize is making a list of things to do. Then for each item in your list, ask yourself: "Is it important?" and "Is it urgent?" Assign a rating for both questions, and if your to-do activity rates high in importance and urgency, it goes to the top of your priority list.
- CLUSTER ACTIVITIES. Do you have a scheduled visit to the doctor ? After the visit would be a great time to pick up supplies and groceries. If you are a caregiver at home, it would be good to have some sort of a cart that you can take around. If you are going to change linens, bring with you fresh linens and supplies, and a laundry basket for dirty sheets. In this manner, you save time going in and out of the room carrying heavy loads
- STOCK SUPPLIES IN BULK. Buying supplies at wholesale prices gives you two advantages; it is cheaper and saves you time-consuming trips to the grocery store. Assign a place for commonly used supplies in each area of the house. Say you usually use alcohol, wipes, and tissue in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and your car. Have a set in each of these areas to save you from having to get and return supplies from one source.
- REDUCE CLUTTER. “Clean as you go” just like how a professional chef comes up with a superb dish in no time and their kitchen table top is still looking pristine. Put covered waste baskets where you need them most. Throw away things that you don’t need.
- ESTABLISH ROUTINES. Routines may sound boring, but for caregivers, direct care workers, and the patient, it is necessary. Routines will give direction to your day and enable you to anticipate the care recipient’s needs. Of course, include recreational activities for both you and your loved one, so you don't feel like you’re missing out on the fun parts.
- MAKE A CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES. This enables you to plan ahead and not be panicked by remembering at the last-minute that “today is a return visit day." It would also help to set up alarms and notifications on your mobile phone.
- PRACTICE MEDICATION MANAGEMENT. Have a journal that contains all the details of your loved one’s medication. You will need to bring this journal to every doctor visit. Utilize color-coded pill organizers for morning, noon, and night intakes. Make four sets of these to have a monthly supply organized. For long-term medications, order them in bulk and online if possible.
- KEEP A BINDER OF THE PATIENT’S MEDICAL HISTORY AND DIAGNOSTIC TEST RESULTS. Put it in an accessible place. This technique will prevent you from rummaging through a pile of papers during an emergency.
Your ability to develop a system for doing things can help you make use of your time wisely and prevent burnout. In every situation, keep simplifying, organizing, and prioritizing. Soon all efforts will become good habits that will make your caregiving responsibility successful.
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