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Getting Organized

My father was the one in our family who kept track of everything and took charge of all the important decision-making. When he became ill, we had a tough time putting all the pieces together and adjusting to a way of life where we as a family had to make all the important decisions without him.

It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the decisions, responsibilities, and tasks you are facing now. CaringRoad.com is here to help! If you are at the beginning of this journey, let's start with a some concrete issues to begin thinking about. Here's the first one: Get organized. Try to take charge of your situation, rather than letting it take charge of you.

It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by the decisions, responsibilities, and tasks that now face you. CaringRoad.com is here to provide tips along the way.

Here's the first one: Get organized. Take charge of your situation, rather than letting it take charge of you.

If you are at the beginning of this journey, here are a number of concrete issues for you to begin thinking about.

Adjusting to Your Role as a Caregiver

When you meet with your doctor, find out exactly what tasks you will need to perform so that you can be prepared both mentally and physically. Try to walk yourself through what a day of caregiving might be like and make a list of what you will have to do so that you can ask appropriate questions about things such as: moving someone from bed to wheelchair, giving medications, dressing a wound, or preparing special meals.

When you feel angry and/overwhelmed, make sure you address it by taking a moment to yourself, walking around the block, and setting aside some time for relaxation. (See Relaxation). This is going to be stressful for your body and mind, so don't neglect your own needs! Make sure you take time for yourself.

Quick Shopping List
  • Notepads and pens
  • Big easy-to-read calendar
  • Bedside clock
  • File folders for important documents (see Important Files)
  • Paper clips
  • Highlighters
  • Refrigerator magnets or sticky pads for daily reminders
  • Journal
  • Tray / holder for medications
Make a Care-Giving Plan
  • Identify your medical team. Choose your doctors, nurses, hospital or other medical facility. See Talking to Your Doctor.
  • Identify your caregiving team. Appoint family members, friends, volunteers, or hired help to take charge of various aspects of care. See Finding In-Home Help.
  • Assess your home for safety. Do you have the necessary furniture and bathroom and telephone access your loved one's needs? See Modifying Your Home.
  • Create a daily schedule that maps out your loved one's day. Evaluate its feasibility with regard to work, other family responsibilities, and personal time. See CaringRoad Daily Schedule for an example - you can download this as a place to start.
  • Make list of of important phone numbers who to call in an emergency (list all home, cell phone numbers and pagers) so it's available to someone providing care in your home in case you're not there. Post this information sheet near a telephone. See CaringRoad Information Sheet for an example - you can download this as a place to start.
  • Educate yourself about your loved one's health insurance coverage. See Health Insurance Information.
  • Bring yourself up to date about your finances. See Financial Information.
  • Have important forms on hand (DNR, living will, health proxy).
  • Join the CaringRoad Support Network to meet other caregivers online and check out support groups in your area if you might be able to attend meetings.
Set Aside Time to Make Decisions with Your Family and Your Loved One

No matter how out of control you may feel, there are certain decisions that will always be yours to make with your loved one. If your loved one is able, it's also empowering for him or her to participate in the decision-making process. By discussing these issues and making decisions early-and together-you will feel a sense of security knowing that plans corresponding to your loved one's wishes are in place. For a list of issues you may need to discuss with your doctor, see Making Educated Medical Decisions.

Important Files
Medical Information
  • List of all doctors, their specialty, telephone numbers
  • Previous health problems with dates of diagnosis
  • Keep track of past allergies and drug reactions
  • Calendar with dates of tests and appointments
  • Note all medications, name and number of pharmacy and pharmacists you've dealt with
  • Identify what hospital you want to go to in an emergency, have emergency room phone number and number for ambulence service on hand

For more information, see Medical Matters

Health Insurance Information
  • Locate private insurance policies (including Major Medical and Medigap)
  • Locate brochures and written information from your insurance company, (this might include Medicare and Medicaid)
  • Locate all cards pertaining to insurance, prescription plans, Medicare, hospitals. List names and numbers of insurance agents

For more information, see Insurance Issues

Financial Information
  • note checking and savings accounts, money market funds, stocks & bonds
  • List names and numbers of bank officers, stockbrokers and financial advisors, accountants, etc.
  • Do an assessment of your monthly income and net worth
  • Do an assessment of your anticipated monthly expenses (adding new concerns such as: unreimbursed medical expenses, unreimbursed home health care, medicine, medical supplies, insurance premiums, etc.)

For more information, see Financial Matters

  • Organize bills and receipts to keep track of expenses for hospital stays and medication that are not covered by health insurance (co-pays and percentage of reimbursement)
  • Keep track of when you paid bills and to whom and make a plan to note when you received reimbursement
Important Documents
  • gather legal documents (wills, health care proxys, DNR's, etc.)
  • note the name and numbers of your lawyers

For more information, see Legal Matters

CaringRoad Daily Schedule

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 CaringRoad Daily Schedule

CaringRoad Information Sheet

Click on one of the formats below to view the CaringRoad.com Caregiver Information Sheet.
 CaringRoad Information Sheet (Acrobat Reader is Required)

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 CaringRoad Information Sheet

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