Think about your schedule. You’re a busy person. You work, you care for mom, and you try to maintain a social life. If you don’t already have a calendar, how do you do it? Calendars can be extremely beneficial to family caregivers.
You have a calendar on your phone, on your wall, in your office. But do you use it? First off, you need a calendar. Not a calendar you look at twice a month to see what day of the week the holiday falls on; a calendar you check daily. This is the type of calendar you carry with you everywhere you go, whether it be an electronic calendar on your smart phone or a handy little planner that fits in your purse or glove box.
Take out that calendar and start writing commitments. Write the hours you work, the time you spend commuting, and other regular commitments. This will help you determine when you can manage caregiver duties and when you will need help.
If you are sharing the responsibilities of caregiving with family members or friends, an online shared calendar can do wonders for your situation. No more calling every member of the family to see if they can take care of mom when you have your own doctor’s appointment and no more frantically calling your brother at work to care for dad when you wake up with the flu and can’t provide care.
This handy shared calendar can show you which caregiver is providing care and which caregivers are busy with other commitments. It should also show when your loved one has appointments or bills due. You wake up sick, look at the calendar and see that your sister doesn’t go into work until noon today. Your dad just needs help getting to his morning doctor’s appointment, which your sister can definitely handle. You call her; she takes dad to the appointment and is back home before 10:30. No stress, no hassle, just a schedule.
Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself. Each family caregiver should schedule time for themselves to take off from both work and caregiver responsibilities in order to maintain their own personal and social lives. Go on vacation. Get a massage. Have lunch with a friend. Do something you love without being interrupted.
To Do Lists
Post-it notes are essential for making daily to-do lists. Stick the note right on the calendar (or virtually put a note on the calendar date) so you’ll see it when you check the date. Your to-do list should be a prioritized list of things you’d like to get done on the day. Because there are only so many hours in a day, and that number will never change, remember that you can only do so much.
On your shared calendar, to-do lists can be utilized for necessary care supports. By making a to-do list that all caregivers can access, care can be provided consistently and efficiently. Next time your sister is getting ready to leave dad’s house and is mentally checking to make sure she did everything, she can pull out the list and see that she forgot to check the bedroom floor for potential tripping hazards overnight.
A calendar, and especially a shared calendar for multi-caregiver situations, can be a great stress reliever and a great way to stay organized. All you have to do is use it consistently.