As a caregiver, it is a constant challenge to keep balanced and organized. Of course, the best way to get organized is to have a plan of action BEFORE a crisis occurs.
However, if you become a caregiver unexpectedly, these lists and tips from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers will help your family prioritize what needs to be done.
In either situation, involve your loved one as much as possible, carefully considering his or her input.
ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
Medical: medical directives, DNRs, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Wills, disability/health/dental/long term care/life insurance, contact information for all doctors, detailed information regarding prescriptions.
Personal: will, birth/marriage/divorce certificates, driver’s license, organ donation, military record, passport/visa, Durable Power of Attorney.
Financial: banking, deeds, loans and bills, investments.
Final wishes: regarding funeral arrangements/wake, music, passages to be read, officiate.
FAMILY MEETINGS / UPDATES
Share this opportunity with others to give back. Family members, friends, church family, etc. can do something to help Grandpa, or you (prepare a meal, laundry, errands.) Say “yes please!” to assistance – everyone will benefit.
Identify action items, and assign each task a level of importance. Set priorities first, taking care of less important details later.
Discuss what needs to be done, by whom, how often and for how long, how it will be paid for, and at what location.
Embrace the theme of simplification regarding physical space, schedules, obligations and responsibilities to make way for new and evolving circumstances.
Remember your personal needs. You will need to refuel, gain perspective, and work through any number of frustrations. Know your limits and respect them.
Lean on the healing power of relationships and emotional support. Family nights, outings, visits from friends, activities, phone calls, or conversation can take both your minds off illness temporarily.
Utilize online tools: from caregiver calendars, lists and charts to support groups.
Give everyone a generous learning curve, including you and the patient. Work hard to let go of perfection and hyper-vigilance in things that don’t really matter. What really matters in this chapter of your life, and perhaps the last chapter of your loved one, is love.
~ ~ ~This article was written and contributed by NAPO Southeast Michigan chapter member Jennifer Asselin of Living Arrangements Professional Organizing.