By David Huckabee
Coordination of care and resources can be one of the greatest challenges faced by a caregiver. Making sure that all needs are addressed, medical appointments are kept, financial records are accurate, and that nothing falls through the cracks can seem overwhelming even to the most diligent caregiver. At the Alzheimer’s Association, we offer several suggestions to help caregivers through the maze of care coordination. The first of these suggestions seems almost too simple, but it is one that we often forget in the moment.
1. Write everything down. Studies have shown that the mere act of writing something down helps us remember it. Even if we don’t remember it, we have the written list to refer to as needed. When we say everything, we mean everything. Doctor’s appointments, questions about symptoms, phone numbers of neighbors and friends who have offered to help (and what they might be able/willing to do)…the list goes on and on. Obviously, what ends up being written will depend on the situation but when in doubt, write it out.
2. Stay organized. Reducing clutter and keeping important information in a central location can reduce the time and energy needed to find something in the moment. This includes legal papers, financial statements, medical information, etc. We also suggest that at least two people have knowledge of where these important papers are located.
3. Plan ahead. Unfortunately, much of the stress caregivers experience happens when situations that could have been planned for were ignored or put off until another day. None of us enjoy thinking about end of life decisions, facility placement, and other stressful situations. However, planning ahead as much as possible for these events greatly reduces stress in the moment.
4. BREATHE! With very few exceptions, decisions that you need to make as a caregiver do not need to be made immediately (no matter how much other people want you to have to make them in the moment). We always think better and make better decisions if we give ourselves time to reflect and consider our options. Being a great caregiver doesn’t necessarily mean being a fast caregiver.
If you would like more information about any of these suggestions or would like to participate in our educational/support opportunities, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter at (800) 272-3900 or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. David Huckabee is the Associate Director of Programs for the North Central Florida Regional Office of the Alzheimer’s Association.