Time Management Tips for the Busy Family Caregiver


Face Your Fears

Get in the habit of doing what you must do but don't because of fears. Avoiding a review of the finances for fear of what you'll find? Putting off that call to find another doctor? Do it today so you have the information you need to have a more productive tomorrow. Fear wastes your time. When you walk past fear, you'll get more done.

Stay Organized

Looking for what you need will put you behind in your day. Create a place for everything, including your caregiving supplies. Organize a closet in the bathroom and in the bedroom with supplies easily accessible during personal care. In addition, an organized closet means you'll know when supplies need to be replaced. Use auto delivery of supplies as often as you can.

Be Prepared

Hand-in-hand with being organized is being prepared. Have supplies in the ready so you're armed to manage all that could happen. Have supplies in case the flu hits (ginger ale, crackers, Theraflu®). Stock incontinence supplies, even if your caree is not incontinent, so you'll be ready when you'll need them.

Make Time for Your Support

Keeping it in will distract you from what needs to be done. Blog, journal, call friends, join online support communities for family caregivers, attend community support groups. Build your support system on your good days. Go to a support group meeting, join an online community, start a blog. You'll have your support in place when you really need it on your bad days. Ask support group members for suggestions on devices, gadgets, technology and community programs which can help.

Make Specific Requests for What You Need

You have a special gift – you can anticipate what someone needs and meet those needs. It's a gift not given to all. Believing that others can read your mind will create a frustrating day. Need to order pizza for dinner because you can't find the energy to cook? Tell your family why it's another Pizza Night. Need more help? Share which tasks have become overwhelming or which days have become incredibly frustrating. Say it.

Streamline The Health Care System

A CareGiving.com member made sure she and her aging parent shared a doctor to make it easy for both of them to get to the doctor. Schedule early-morning doctor's appointments when the doctor is more likely to be on schedule. Before leaving for an appointment, call to check the doctor's schedule so you don't waste time waiting. Share a Google calendar with family members who can help with assistance to appointments. Use your provider's patient portals to have access to medical records.

Take Time for Movement

We push ourselves to keep going past our ability to be productive. Take a few minutes to walk outside, even up and down the driveway, to get some fresh air.

Check Up on Help

Check with local agencies and organizations regularly to make sure you use all the services available to you and your caree. Funding, waiting lists and programs change regularly. When you stay up-to-date on what's available, you'll use what's available when it's available. And, that means you avoid doing too much of what another organization or agency can do for you. You can search for help at BenefitsCheckup® .

Every Worry Needs a Plan

Worrying can keep you from doing. Create a plan for each of your worries. Worried your favorite home health aide will quit? Put in a place in place to find a back-up. Worried your caree will require more care than you can provide? Put a plan in place to learn about options, like using community programs (Meals on Wheels and an adult day program), hiring more help in the home or assisted living and nursing homes. Putting your worries through a plan helps you take action and dim the sound of panic.

Reflect and Review Regularly

Schedule time each month to reflect and review what's working and what needs tweaking. Often a caree's decline gets absorbed into your day without recognition of the impact on your day. When you take time to step back, you'll see what demands more and more of your time. You'll be able to consider what you need, who can help and how you can get the help. Time to step back to see the big picture means the days' details don't drain you.

Finally, as often as you can, kick guilt to the curb. You're managing, overseeing and delegating. You're asking for help, you're receiving the help you can. Guilt will talk you into believing you (and only you) need to do more. When more needs to be done, look to community programs, technology and family members to help. With all that's on your task list, know you don't have to add guilt. You're doing enough and you're doing it well.

About the Author

Denise M. Brown launched CareGiving.com in 1996. CareGiving.com holds one of the largest online libraries of caregiving stories. Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and regularly speaks about the family caregiver experience. Her insights have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, US News & World Report, USA Today, SmartMoney.com, Time magazine and Chicago Tribune. Her books, including The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey and Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers, provide insights, inspirations and information to those who care for family.