How to Simplify Caregiving and Make It More Manageable
Sixty percent of caregivers are employed full-time. Between work and running a household, there isn’t a lot of extra time for caregiving duties. Unfortunately, caregiving is full of never-ending to do lists and tasks to accomplish for yourself, your caree and your family. Top 10 Caregiver Hacks
The stress from caregiving can lead to health issues such as a higher risk for chronic illness, a weakened immune system and depression and anxiety. What can you do to reduce the caregiving stress? I’ve pulled together a list of my 10 favorite tools for caregivers to either help you lighten your load or relax. Top 10 Caregiver Hacks
Top 10 Caregiving Tools to Be More Efficient
- Develop a System: Organization should be your first step in caregiving. Whether you create a schedule on the wall, use a paper planner or use an electronic calendar or app on your phone, keep your schedule and contacts organized. Be sure to include contact information for doctors and service providers so that you don’t have to look them up each time you need to do something.
- Use Your Time Wisely: Are there things you can knock off your to do list during spare moments or downtime? Can you work on your grocery list while waiting in line at the bank or make your to do list while waiting in the dentist’s office? What can you do to make the most of your spare minutes?
- Never Have Empty Hands: I once read a time management tip that suggested never leaving a room with empty hands. If you’re going to the bathroom, can you take fresh towels from the linen closet to refresh the room? If you’re walking to the bedroom, take the shoes sitting by the door or the book you want to read later. If you’re in your room, take the water glass next to your bed back to the kitchen. Rather than spending hours putting your house back together on a Saturday, move things throughout the day. Your home will feel slightly more organized.
- Outsource When You Can: Managing two households is extremely difficult. I can barely keep one house running. If you or your caree has the means, outsource some tasks to take things off your plate. Is your parent having a difficult time keeping his/her house clean? Hire a weekly or biweekly cleaning service to do the big jobs. Do you or your parent have a difficult time getting meals on the table? Consider one of the many meal prep services or even schedule take out into your weekly meal rotation. Is there someone who can take your parent to the grocery store or to run errands? Use a service or hire a driver to reduce the amount of time you are running around. Make a list of the activities you do on a regular basis that can be outsourced.
- Use Technology: Set up online reminders so that your brain doesn’t have to keep track of everything. If possible, communicate with doctors or service providers via email or text. Email allows you to reach out during the off hours when you have time.
- Reach Out/Use Your Resources: Don’t do it all yourself. You can enlist the help of other family members, your community or even local resources like your senior center. Just like it takes a village to raise a family, it takes a village to care for an aging parent.
- Practice Self-Care: If you don’t care for yourself, you can’t care for others. It’s that simple. Whether you have a lot of time or almost no time, you need to make time for yourself so that you don’t experience burnout.
- Let Go Of What You Can: I know how difficult this one can be. I want to do everything, perfectly, myself. However, no one is a superhero. We all need help and not everything can be perfect always. If you are dealing with a particularly busy or stressful time, it’s OK to eat more take out or have a messier house than you’d like. Give yourself permission to let go and just do the best you can do today.
- Plan Ahead: You can’t always plan for a crisis, but whenever possible, having your game plan set up ahead of time will make a crisis less chaotic. If you don’t work on weekends, take some time to get yourself ready for the week. Plan for the busy days so that you don’t rush around. Prep a few dinners, plan your wardrobe, put your parent’s medication in in pill dispenser. Do whatever you can ahead of time to reduce in-the-moment chaos.
- Stay Positive: Sometimes when we’re in the midst of busy-ness and chaos, we get frustrated. It can be easy to get angry and frustrated with your situation when you are overwhelmed. Acknowledge that you are in a busy stage of life and your current life is stressful and challenging, but remember this too shall pass. Years from now, you will be happy that you were able to spend so much time with your parent and you will miss the chaos of having children demanding your time. Try to focus on the positive parts of your life when times are tough to make them more bearable. Consider keeping a gratitude journal to focus on the positive parts of your life. Even if you had a terrible day, you can be grateful that you woke up, there is a roof over your head and food in your belly.
Top 10 Caregiver Hacks