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Today, we are sharing some “life hacks” for caregivers. According to Wikipedia, a life hack is a term for “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” If you are caring for an aging parent or senior loved one, you need these shortcuts more than anyone!
TechTime: Apps and Online Tools
Use caregiver apps or other scheduling and time-saving apps. Here are a few we recommend checking out: Caregiver’s Touch (this is the app our care managers use to coordinate care and communicate/store vital information), Caring Bridge (to record journal entries to keep others updated and communicate easily), Balance for Alzheimer’s Caregivers (specific to Alzheimers: coordinate care, track meds and get the latest dementia information).
Other related apps that may be useful include: WebMD mobile, various “to do” list apps (see this Forbes article for a list of their top 9 suggestions), Medisafe (medication reminder app), MyActionPlanner (a goal setting tool developed by Stanford to help with a healthy lifestyle), and iRelax (relaxing soundscapes to keep you stress-free).
Meals Made Easy
Between all the busy tasks of caregiving, it can be hard to find time to prepare healthy meals. Consider using a meal delivery service or even hiring someone to prep meals to freeze (our EasyLiving caregivers can help!). Keep healthy convenience foods on hand (nuts, canned beans, cooked chicken, pre-cut vegetables and fruit, healthy snack food). There are also great apps for meal planning (with help creating shopping lists, searching by ingredient and more). Here’s a great list of apps that assist with special dietary requirements. Check out these “21 Cooking Tips That Will Change Your Life” too!
It Takes a Village
Taking the best possible care of your loved one means not doing it all alone. Think about tasks you’d be better off “outsourcing” such as meals and cleaning so you can have more quality time to dedicate to your loved one. Consider the emotional discomfort that can come with performing personal care tasks for a parent. Maybe having a trained caregiver to help with bathing and toileting would make sense?
Get comfortable with a “care team” before you are in a crisis. Use respite help or take a break once/week and have a quality caregiver assist so you are able to maintain some balance and have familiar help when needed.
Seeking help from a geriatric care manager is much like seeking help from a CPA with your taxes or a financial advisor with your investments. Rather than try to learn all about the eldercare system, aging issues and healthcare for elders, seek someone who is educated, trained and experienced to be your guide.
It Doesn’t All Have to Be Done Today
When your loved one faces a crisis, you get a lot thrown at you at once and can feel pressured in to major decisions. This is an ideal time to get a professional care management assessment to help you prioritize. What decisions need to be made immediately (and what are the best options) and what can wait? What issues are most urgent for your loved one’s safety and what long-term planning can be done as time allows to avoid future crises?
It is also okay to say no and reduce other obligations when you are focused on caregiving. But, make sure to maintain at least one (preferably daily) activity that provides you pleasure or relaxation, and do not neglect your health.
Use the apps we mentioned above to store information and keep schedules updated. Set alarms and reminders so you won’t forget important appointments and to-dos. Automate bill paying and other basic tasks. Schedule appointments at your previous appointment, and set your reminders.
Little things around the home, such as leaving an extra trash bag in all your cans for replacements and these 45 amazing little tricks, can remove hassles and save you time.
Give Aging Wisely’s Senior Care Consultant a call at 727-447-5845 for more great ideas to make caregiving easier! You can contact Aging Wisely’s geriatric care management team in Tampa Bay/Pinellas County, Florida online.