Being a caregiver is a never-ending job, and these 13 Tips to Getting Organized will help you to get organized for your caregiving duties AND all the things you need to do for yourself, as well.
Caregiver Tips to Help Organize
Use a calendar on the wall AND on your person. It may seem redundant, but it's important to have a wall calendar so that your loved one (and you) can quickly see at a glance any important dates coming up. It's also important to have some type of calendar on you when you're out-and-about at doctor appointments or family functions. Whether you use a pen-and-paper day planner or an app on your smartphone, make sure you always have something nearby so you don't have to write it down later.
Consider an online family-sharing calendar. When you need to know of events going on in your loved one's life or make sure other family members know about upcoming doctor appointments and events, save yourself from having to make several phone calls and simply set up a family shared calendar.
Google Calendar can easily integrate with Apple products AND Android or PC products, and you can set up a specific calendar that can share events with others. Or, you can set up the Family Sharing calendar on Apple's iCalendar. In addition, there are apps available that are also desktop website calendars, such as Cozi. Find one that works for you and your loved ones, and set it up.
Have an Emergency Document Binder. Save yourself tons of valuable time searching for important documents and contact information by creating an Emergency Document Binder that includes doctor's phone numbers, lists, medications, details where important documents are and so much more.
Plan meals. This may seem like it just adds another to-do to your ever-growing list, but it is something that will definitely save you time and stress in the long run! Designate time each week (whether it's on Sunday, Friday or another day) to list each and every meal your loved one (and you, too) will eat every day. This way you'll be able to go shopping ahead of time for all the ingredients and you won't be stressing all day long over the next meal.
Designate days for certain errands. Know that you'll go shopping for those meals you've planned on Mondays, stop in the library on Tuesdays, do certain doctor appointments on Wednesdays, etc. It helps to keep you on track when you know ahead of time what you're generally doing on each day. It also helps for planning in the future.
Create a daily cleaning schedule. You can use a computer spreadsheet, paper list or online calendar, but make sure you create a specific day for cleaning. Make a schedule of daily chores that must be done every week (such as laundry on Mondays, cleaning the bathroom on Tuesdays, vacuuming on Wednesdays, etc.) and carve out a 30-minute or so time frame to accomplish the task.
Make a weekly cleaning schedule. For the things that don't need to be done all the time, assign yourself a week each month to tackle them. For instance, tackle cleaning out the refrigerator and organizing cabinets the first week of the month, wiping down cabinets and washing curtains the second week of the month, and so on. This will help you to not have all the things that need to be done weighing on your mind — because you know when they are supposed to be completed.
Designate monthly cleaning jobs. Use your calendar cleaning schedule to target those big jobs that need to be done: Clean the garage out in June; organize holiday decorations in December; swap out seasonal clothes in September; etc. When you designate a specific time to tackle tasks, it ensures that they get done and that you are not left scrambling to do too much all at once.
Schedule "me" time. Although it can seem difficult to do, it's imperative to allow yourself time to do the things that you want to do — to make sure you decompress and tend to your own needs so you can better take care of others. Pick a day, like the first Thursday of the month or every Tuesday, and get together with friends, take a class, or do something else just for YOU. Don't forget to include some time each and every day for you, too — even if it's a half-hour for exercise in the morning and a half-hour of reading at night. Don't just let it happen; SCHEDULE it.
Minimize. Have you ever noticed homes on TV that are spotless and you wonder how? A big part of keeping a home clean and organized it by getting rid of everything that isn't necessary. When you're creating your cleaning calendar, schedule in time to tackle clearing out one room at a time of all the unnecessary items in it. Do this once and then keep it up.
Set up "stuff" bins. Clutter happens when everything doesn't have its own place. Make sure everything you have left over from your minimizing task is in its own appropriate place. Then, set up extra bins for the extra stuff that comes along: Have one bin for things that need to go to storage, one for donations, one for giving to others (such as gifts, hand-me-downs, etc.), one to sell (if you're the garage sale type), and one for "put away at a later time." That last bin will help eliminate those random piles that seem to accumulate in every room at times.
If it will take 5 minutes or less, do it now. Sometimes that to-do list seems so long in your head that it's just overwhelming, and things are sure to fall through the cracks — not to mention it keeps you thinking about all the things you need to do. New plan! If you can do it within 5 minutes, do it. Open that mail, fill out that R.S.V.P. card, pay that online bill when you receive it, call the doctor back when you get the message, replace the batteries that just died, etc.
Set a timer. Use an egg timer or the timer on your phone and set it to help stay on task. Turn it to 20 minutes and clean — then stop when the timer goes off. Organize a room after setting the timer; or even set a timer to go off when you need to start doing something (such as, it's time for meal planning, etc.). It's easy to lose track of time, but using a timer will help you make the most of your day and make sure you're using your time more efficiently.
Find Out How Hoveround Helps
Hoveround makes mobility easier, which in turn helps out caregivers. Find out how to talk to your loved one about using a mobility vehicle (including a Hoveround Power Wheelchair or Mobility Scooter), then call and speak to one of our Mobility Specialists at (800) 542-7236 to find out how Hoveround can help your loved one maintain independence and keep aging in place.