The Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized

The Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized -Day 3 of 30 in Family Caregiver Series

The Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized

When you are a family caregiver, everything can come at you at once and you likely feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do or how to do it.  Do you feel so overwhelmed with the daily caregiving tasks that getting organized seems unrealistic? You need caregiver support! When I unexpectedly became a family caregiver, to say I was overwhelmed was a serious understatement. Now, more than ever, being organized was an absolute must. In this article, I’m sharing the Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized.

 The Ultimate Caregiving Guide to Staying Organized

 

If you are an advocate or know someone who is an advocate, this is for you. If you anticipate you will make health care decisions for a loved one, this is also for you. If you would like to avoid the caregiving mistakes I made, this is definitely for you. Lastly, this is for you if you think you may need care one day.

 

As a caregiver, an organization system is probably one of the most critical things you need to keep everything straight. It doesn’t need to be pretty; it needs to be functional. Click To Tweet

 

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As a caregiver, an organization system is probably one of the most critical things you need to keep everything straight. It doesn’t need to be pretty; it needs to be functional. I needed to rely on more than my memory to keep all the details and upcoming appointments together.

 

“  As the advocate and caregiver, have pen and paper handy to take

notes. This is not the time to rely on your memory.” ~ Tandy Elisala from Healing Through the Chaos: Tandy_Cover_HealingThroughTheCHaos300dpiPractical Care Giving

 

Here’s your guide to creating a patient medical and life management file system

Caregiving Organizer Binder #1

I recommend getting a three-inch binder and label the following sections:

a. Personal Information. This includes name, address, phone numbers, employer name and numbers, insurance, hospitals and any other name or numbers you need.

 

b. Medical Information. This includes information on diagnosis, surgeries, medical history, all medications, dosages, when and why prescribed, prescribing physicians, allergies, medication side effect sheets, pharmacy information, list of hospitals, doctors, and contact information. I also put test results in this section.

 

c. Insurance. This includes insurance cards (copies), medical plan coverage overview, dental and vision plan information, short and/or long-term care plan information, and insurance coverage contact information.  NOTE: I had a separate binder to keep all the explanation of benefits (EOB) and bills.

 

d. Finances. This includes bank statements, receipts, and account information. NOTE: If you are the Power of Attorney (POA), be sure to keep receipts and other documentation on money coming in and money going out (for me, it was more money going out).

 

e. Household. This includes general household information such as mortgage and utility companies, account numbers, and contact information. I have a form that specifies what bills may be automatically paid versus manually paid, the amount(s) and due date(s). I kept all this information in this section.

 

f. Estate. This includes copies of wills, trusts, power of attorney, and do not resuscitate orders.

 

g. Attorney/Police. This is certainly optional depending on your situation. For my father’s accident, I had this section to hold all accident-related paperwork, reports, etc…

 

h.  Rehabilitation.  I had sub-sections for inpatient and outpatient rehab for both of my parents.  I labeled each subsection with the MO/YR, name, facility name. For the outpatient rehabilitation, I included the homework sheets, logs we were to complete, appointment date and time log, etc…

 

i.Assisted Living.  I had similar sub-sections as (h) and I also included a section for interview/preview. Here, I included my list of questions and space to comment on each question, observation, follow up needed, etc… for each facility I visited prior to making a decision for my parents’ care during various times.

 

j.  Home Health Care. This included the company information, a sheet for monitoring visit days, nurse names, outcomes and action items if any.

 

k.   Hospice.  For me, information on this actually came immediately after my dad’s passing. Between the time it took from being transported from our home to hospice until his death was four days. I put information on their services and such after the fact. If you have a loved one in hospice for more than a few days, you can use this section to include paperwork related to the facility.

 

l.  Doctor Visits.  Here, I had a removable sticky label for each doctor followed by MO/YR tabs. Information included any summary notes from appointments doctors provided, my notes, lab or test paperwork to do, and their business card/contact information. You need to have room for a lot of paper to ask questions and take notes before and during doctor office visits.  Alternatively, you could have a notebook for taking notes and ensure the notepad fits in the organizer between appointments.

At the end of each section, I had blank pieces of paper for notes within each topic/section. At the very beginning of the binder, I had several sheet protectors for any important information I needed to give, share or do.

Caregiving Organizer Binder #2

I then made another 3-inch binder with sheet protectors and kept all letters/correspondence I sent out on my parents’ behalf. Keeping all documentation organized will help you easily reference materials. I can’t tell you how incredibly valuable it was to have a binder with copies of all letters I sent out on their behalves. Inside the sheet protector, I retained the letter, email or whatever it was that prompted me to communicate with them. I also kept faxes in this binder.

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BONUS TIP #1:  Include the names and phone #s of the 5 24/7 365 people that have agreed to be your emergency contacts. Put this list at the beginning of your binder, on your refrigerator, in your phone contacts and/or notes.

BONUS TIP #2: If your loved one is hospitalized, be sure to document any belongings such as hearing aids and dentures.

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There is a checklist of everything we’ve discussed in our Empowered Family Caregiver FB group.

Join us here: www.facebook.com/groups/EmpoweredFamilyCaregiver

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Here’s to happy organizing!

 

Your Turn:  If you’ve been a family caregiver, are there things you needed to retain that are not included in this list?  What do you think is the most challenging aspect of staying organized or being a caregiver in general? Please comment below!!

  If you are stressed and overwhelmed, get your Quick-Start Guide to Conquer Overwhelm here: http://bit.ly/byeoverwhelm 

http://bit.ly/byeoverwhelm

 

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Tandy Elisala

Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness
Tandy Elisala is passionate about bringing hope and wholehearted living to people going through cancer and their caregivers. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. She left her 23-year corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously for 2 ½ years. She now teaches what she learned on her journey and how to thrive during and after cancer using the true sources of health and healing: hope and mindset, spiritual connection, relationships, alignment and mind, body healing. Tandy is a multiple best-selling author, radio show host, mother of three grown kids and her precious dog, Roxy. Learn more about Tandy at www.tandyelisala.com.

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13 replies
  1. christine alejandro
    christine alejandro says:

    I just ended a 24 year period of time of being a caretaker for 3 different family members; my mom for 12 years, my older brother for 5 years and my youngest brother for 7 years- all deceased now. I did some of these things you suggest out of necessity, but how nice it would have been to have this information and support during those years. Anyone who is a caregiver for a loved one should have this information. Thank you Tandy!

    Reply
    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Christine, First, I want to commend you for taking care of your mom and two brothers over a 24 year period of time. Just wow. I applaud you for taking on such a role for 3 close family members. I appreciate your comments. I means a lot coming from someone who has been there. Thank you for all you do Christine!

      Reply
  2. Rena McDaniel
    Rena McDaniel says:

    Hi Tandy! Great advice once again. I use a file cabinet right between the phone and computer and a spiral notebook for the doctors office. But I like the idea of a binder for the doctors. Between mom ( Alzheimer’s) and me (RA) believe me there are alot of notes. One thing I would like to mention be extra aware if loved one is admitted into hospital, about keeping dentures put up if not in use. My mother had hip replacement and after lunch was going to nap so she took her teeth out and wrapped them in a paper towel. I had stepped out for a little while and she couldn’t get up to put them away. They came and took her tray away and assumed the papertowel with her dentures was garbage and threw them away. A very costly mistake on our part.
    Rena McDaniel recently posted…Medications and Mahi Mahi Who KnewMy Profile

    Reply
    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Rena! A file cabinet is a great things to have as a caregiver! We had several:-) Thank you so much for bringing up the dentures issue you faced with your mother. I had the *exact* same thing happen to my dad once. It was a very costly mistake indeed; especially when the dentures you have are only a few years old and insurance doesn’t cover replacements due to, uuummm, throwing them away. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to include this in some future sharing.

      Reply
    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Sophie, I applaud you and all others who work tirelessly and generously with those who need care the most. I can only imagine the rewards and challenges that go along with working in a residential home. God bless you! We should connect. I am launching a program that I think may benefit your residents and their families. I’ve made a note to connect with you in a few weeks.

      Reply
  3. Nate Leung
    Nate Leung says:

    Hi Tandy!

    You know, I had to admit you got me thinking here. I know that we have all of this information but it’s stored all over the place. Not in one location. This is a perfect way to store everything in one place to make it easier. Actually what I might do is put all this information in my phone in case if someone I trust needs to get access, they can do so!
    Nate Leung recently posted…How To Use SoundCloud To Get More Traffic To Your SiteMy Profile

    Reply
    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Nate! I’m so glad I got you thinking:-) Having this information stored all over the place (at least the stuff before you need it) and consolidating it definitely makes life easier when you do need the information. Putting it in your phone is a good idea. Another thing my clients do is putting this information on google drive. Food for thought.

      Reply
    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Hi Francene, thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I’ve tried to organize things and make it as easy as possible for people to create their own ‘system’ for family caregiving organization.

      Reply

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  1. […] why advocacy is a big deal (Day 2).  Then, I shared the ultimate guide to staying organized; (Day 3).  I showed you ways to be an advocate and affirmed that sometimes it’s okay to upset the […]

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