Organization Equals Good Self-care
Helping people get organized is a really big business. A quick internet search reveals a staggering number of pre-formatted to-do lists, keys of successful project-management, how to go about hiring a professional organizer and quick tips for decluttering. The long-term results of being organized are very appealing to nearly everybody, but caregivers can experience an almost instant reduction in stress by putting their multiple care tasks in a manageable order.
Providing care for your loved one is an enormous job; there’s meds to manage, juggling the varied schedules of home health care workers, meals to prepare, laundry to sort, physician appointments, therapy appointments—the to-do list is daunting. And if the care recipient is a dementia patient, navigating certain aspects of the relationship can be more difficult depending on the dementia type and current stage. How do you begin to get physical tasks and emotional needs organized when you can’t even see the end of the list?
Write Things Down
In the sitcom Friends, Courtney Cox’s character Monica Geller talked about how important it was to keep note pads everywhere because she observed that you never knew when you’d need to write something down—like one of Joey’s many auditions! In her humorous, hyper-organized way, Monica made an excellent point: writing important information down meant it wouldn’t be forgotten. Try keeping a magnetic pad on the fridge. Writing the info down tells your mind that this is important and you don’t want to forget it. This is also a wonderful tool if you start seeing new symptoms in your loved one; as the caregiver, you can write them down so you remember details when talking with your loved one’s doctor.
Create Time Slots for Everything
Make a list of what has to be done. You may even sub-divide it into categories like “Daily Tasks” and “Weekly or Monthly Tasks.” Fill in your list with the things you know have to be done either daily, weekly or monthly. This is the place you want to put any regular appointments your loved one may have, like, for example, seeing their physical therapist. You get an easy overview of all that has to be accomplished within a set period of time, and you can see more clearly how to arrange the schedule so the events don’t overlap.
Procrastination is stressful! As soon as you know something needs attention, get it on your to-do list. If for instance, your loved one has an unexpected financial issue, you may need to schedule an appointment with their banker; it will be better for you to go ahead and look into it now rather than risk having it fall behind—which will ultimately create more stress.
Organization isn’t actually hard, it just takes a little time and thought. Your life as a caregiver is already stressed enough, so getting things put in order where they can be managed effectively just makes good sense. Consider it good caregiver self-care; by getting organized, you’re giving yourself a gift: less stress!