If you’re caring for an elderly parent, chances are you have much to juggle on a day-to-day basis, from the demands of outside employment to family and home demands, tracking healthcare appointments, medications, and more. It’s no surprise that many people caring for senior parents find themselves stressed and overwhelmed.
When this happens, often the best thing to do is take a (brief) step back and look for ways to get organized. If you’re caring for an elderly parent, here are a few tips you can implement today to make your life more balanced, less stressful, and better organized.
Most people don’t realize how much their environment impacts their mood and well-being. If you’re focused on caring for your loved one, housework can easily fall by the wayside, eventually leading to clutter and disorganization.
The last thing you need is to stress out every day when it’s time to find your car keys, so take steps to reduce clutter and create an organized, relaxing space. Go through each room of your house and decide what items could be sold or donated. If there are large items, such as furniture, old appliances, or artwork, hire movers to help you so that you don’t risk injury and to ensure there’s one less thing to do on your list. Remember, a clutter-free home environment is safer for you and your aging or disabled loved one.
Keep a Journal
It may sound like just one more thing to add to your daily to-do list, but keeping a journal can actually help you be more organized. Whether you use a digital tool like OneNote or Evernote or keep a written journal, a central place for jotting down important notes and documenting symptoms and health concerns is invaluable for caregivers.
With the help of a journal, you don’t need to rely on your memory to convey important observations and other details to your loved one’s healthcare providers. And, journaling provides some valuable mental health benefits, too.
Use a Daily Planner
When you’re caring for an elderly parent, you often have so many tasks that must be handled each day that it’s an impossible feat to remember them all. Relying on a series of post-it notes attached to random objects throughout your home is an inefficient way to keep track of appointments and other tasks.
Whether you prefer digital tools or the traditional paper-and-pencil method, there are hundreds of planners and calendars you can choose from to help you plan your day, week, and month. Getting your upcoming tasks and appointments out of your head frees up mental space and energy to focus on your loved one’s needs.
Adopt Consistent Routines
Routines are particularly useful for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, creating a sense of familiarity that provides comfort in the midst of confusion. That said, any caregiver can benefit from establishing consistent routines for themselves and the loved ones they care for.
Routines take the guesswork out of navigating day-to-day life and eliminates the stress associated with trying to prioritize tasks or find time for different activities. Of course, it’s impossible to follow the same routine precisely every day, as medical and therapy appointments and other events will interrupt the usual schedule – but having a consistent framework as your daily foundation is helpful for all.
Get Healthcare Documents in Order
There are probably many medical and legal documents that you’re responsible for as your parent’s caregiver, and it’s just as important to get these items in order as it is to organize your daily life. Make copies of important documents and store them in a safe, secure location, such as a fireproof safe.
Set aside some time to review and make any necessary updates to documents like power of attorney documents and living wills. Update your loved one’s medication lists and keep a digital copy in your smartphone so it’s easily accessible when needed.
Getting organized can help you be a much more efficient and effective caregiver for your parent. Instead of stressing out about disorganization, commit to getting your home, schedule, and documents in order to eliminate some of your daily stress.