ORGANIZE CARE with THE BINDER and THE BAG
The best tool I used during my decade of caregiving was "The Binder". Having my parent's medical information at my fingertips was crucial to my being able to efficiently get information to the doctors, as well as for myself to see patterns in care.
There will be A LOT to coordinate and remember. An elephant couldn't be expected to recall it all. Creating and maintaining a central database for the details of your caree's medical history and care will give you easy access to important details at a glance and enable you to stay calm in the face of emergencies.
And then there was "The 911 Bag". Sadly for me, I realized how important this item was after I did not have one (more details below.) I kept "The 911 Bag" in the trunk of my car each day after that realization and while I never needed it, I was extremely comforted just knowing it was there and I was ready for anything.
Contact me if you have any comments or suggestions for these sheets or sheets you would like to see created. Together we are stronger.
Your partner in caregiving,
Tips for building THE BINDER:
To use these sheets, simply click on the name of the form to open and print. Fill out and put in a binder. Use dividers to organize by doctor. Add plastic sleeves for extra copies of the MEDICATIONS and for other misc. paperwork.
A clipboard is useful to bring with you to jot down the notes to your questions (as found on the OFFICE VISIT forms). You can pull the pertinent info from the visit and add it to the CARE LOG to see an overview of visits which is great for at-a-glance tracking.
You very well may have all of this information on your cell phone - which is ideal. This is just a backup in case you'd like to use it for reference.
This was the single most useful sheet in my binder. I found keeping copies that could be given to doctors was appreciated by office staff + saved time in having to verbally relay this information or transcribe it onto their forms.
Print this sheet out for each doctor on your caree's team and separate them with tab dividers. You will compile a clear at-a-glance record of the history with that doctor and quickly pinpoint periods of wellness vs. decline. Supplement with the OFFICE VISIT form for the details of each visit.
Print several of these and keep them in your binder. Jot your questions and concerns prior to your visit and ensure that you don't forget anything that you need to discuss with the doctor. Put the sheet on your clipboard and you are ready to have a focused and productive office visit. Also, you will have captured details of the appointment that will very easily disappear from your mind the moment you get home. Caregiving stress is real and our mental capacity is often the first thing to suffer. Outsmart your stressed-out brain by taking notes.
Used for yearly tracking or as a perpetual calendar, here are four ways to use this form:
1. Note events to track your caree's health trends
2. Set a schedule for annual doctor's visits (like the dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, any specialists)
3. Note accomplishments for yourself related to caregiving and your own personal wellness
4. Set realistic goals for things you want or need to accomplish during the year
A little cheat sheet for you in case of emergency.
Consider keeping all doctor, care provider and medication information on your ever-present smartphone. Should an emergency strike and you are not able to grab your 911 Bag, you will have important medical information at your fingertips.
In an emergency, you want to be able to tend to your caree, not scramble for things that you will need once you get to the hospital. I drove around for a year and a half with a 911 Bag in my trunk after the assisted living staff sent my Dad to the emergency room.... NAKED. You can't make this stuff up, as they say. You too will have your share of veteran caregiver stories. Be prepared for the worst and gather everything now - the unthinkable happens, believe me.
Reduce some stress and add a little comfort by having a bag pre-packed in a convenient location or your car.
Once you arrive at the hospital, usually in a panicked rush, your pace will be dramatically reduced as you may be in for waiting, waiting and more waiting. Having a few things to entertain and sustain your sanity and energy levels will greatly reduce the anxiety and frustration that are naturally built into a hospital visit.