Ask an Angel: September 21, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. I have taken on the role of caregiver for my mother. I have been doing this for only 3 months and I am already overwhelmed. I can’t seem to keep everything straight. Between doctor visits, medications, and her daily needs, I am slowly fizzling and feel like things are chaotic. How do people care for their family member with success?

A. There are a couple of things going on here. Let’s talk about how to keep things straight. As a caregiver, it is very important to be organized. You mentioned all the things you are juggling, so I suggest a file or folder for each area you are helping your mom with. Each file will house the plan of care for your mom. So, if you visit a doctor with your mom, make sure you have a clear copy of her care plan. Keep the current instructions in the file. Make sure you have all your questions answered and put your notes in that file. Note any changes in her health in this file. If you do this, you will be prepared for the next doctor visit, and you won’t rely on your memory, which can become fuzzy over time. The same holds true for medications and instructions for those as well. Her daily needs may include social activities, visits with friend, or a ride to the grocery store. Devise a plan and schedule for these events, with days dedicated to such activities. A specific planner or calendar can be helpful for activities and appointments. The key to the chaos you might be feeling is to create a routine. If you are tech savvy, an app on your phone might do the trick. If you can’t seem to put that together, you might consider hiring a professional agency that has tools in place to get you headed in the right direction. An agency will prepare a care for your mom, and put a trained caregiver in place to help you. It may be that you need a kick start to help your mom and once you have things in place, you’ll be caring from a place of confidence instead of chaos.

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