If you’re new to caring, the amount of information that you need to keep track of can feel very overwhelming.
Even experienced carers can sometimes feel as though appointments are popping up unexpectedly or feel swamped by the number of things they need to monitor and manage. Keeping organised is always a helpful way to ensure things run smoothly at home, but sometimes even getting organised can feel like climbing a mountain.
There are several resources available for helping to manage the mental load, but we’ve also compiled together a list of tips and tricks to help you stay organised at home, in life, and in your role as a carer.
Link to the psychology page when created
There are a lot of applications and tools available on smartphones or via the computer which may simplify your planning processes. These methods aren’t always foolproof, but they can often assist with keeping track of complex health records, or conflicting schedules. They can also help reduce the headache of needing to store and refer to paper records! Dementia Australia also has a suite of applications and websites to assist with dementia specific care.
Are you new to technology and not sure where to begin? Check out your local library – many libraries have training courses in how to use your computer and phone to the best of your ability.
In South Australia, The Catalyst Foundation has IT Training and support including learning to use computers, tablets and smart phones.
Technology can have its downsides – be sure to keep an eye out for online scams
Calendar apps and digital to-do lists can be particularly useful for keeping track of appointments and medication schedules. Most standard computer and phone devices will come with their own calendar application which allows you to set reminders for appointments and keep task lists in order. It’s always a good idea to have ranged schedules that are for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly appointments and bills. Calendar applications will allow you to set recurring events to keep track of things that might otherwise slip your mind – such as council rates, or specialist appointments that only happen annually.
CareZone is a medication and appointment management application that can be downloaded directly onto your phone or tablet device. You can create a list of all the medications are required, and track when they are taken, with reminders for when they are needed. On Android or Apple.
While keeping paper records of doctors’ visits and referrals, dosage needs, prescription refills, etc, can work well, sometimes important information can be lost. There are several applications and digital file keepers for health records which might be useful for you and your family.
My Health Record Online is an online summary of you or your family’s key health information designed to be compatible with the Australian Health Care System. It can be forward to doctors and health care professionals to ensure that your most up-to-date health records are available to them.
Have a personalised medication management system
Managing medications means a lot more than just making sure that the right pill is taken at the right time – it also means sorting through doctors’ appointments and insurance information for medication prescriptions and tracking refill dates and when follow-up appointments may be needed. Even small issues, such a lack of transport, may put a stop in your plans to go and pickup refills. As such, it’s important to design a personalised medication management system for yourself and for those you care for.
- Check with your doctor and pharmacist about reminders. They may be able to send you a reminder when prescription is due to be refilled, or an appointment is needed to get a new script.
- Try to have at least one week worth of medications available in advance at all times. This will ensure that if you are unable to pick up a refill for whatever reason, you don’t have to be completely caught off guard.
- Utilise a calendar system or reminder system which works for you. This may be an electronic system, or it may mean scheduling out time each month to record all the important medication information in your calendar.
- Keep note of when medications are taken. It’s easy enough to utilise a pill box or dispenser for medications with time slots for different medication, but for some medications it can be difficult to use these boxes or keep track of when they are being taken, such as medication that requires refrigeration. Make sure to have a marker system for when these medications are taken to keep track.
Anticipate future needs and schedule for them
Caring is an ongoing process which is likely to increase your workloads over time, rather than lesson them. As such, it can be important to start thinking ahead, and working future needs into your plans. You can see more detail about planning for the future in the CarerSupport Future Carer section.
Link to the future carer page when created
Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t go ahead – and that’s okay! It’s important to ensure that you recognise within your scheduling what points are essential, what points are welcome, and what points able to be dropped if something changes. Part of staying organised is recognising that not everything gets done when you expect it to be done and allowing time in your schedules to follow up on things that may end up being pushed back.
Schedule in your down time and respite
A large part of staying organised includes preparing not only for when things need to be done, but also for when things DON’T need to be done. It’s important for you to consider when might be the best time for you to rest and relax, and then plan for those times. Scheduling time to relax and rest will ensure that you can continue offering support to your family when they need it. You can see some resources available to help with there here.
Link to the psychology page when created
Use your networks and social supports
One of the key components of staying organised is recognising when you’re going to require some help. Working with providers, family, and friends, can help keep things running smoothly. It’s important to share the load when you need and ensure that you’re adjusting and adapting to the changing environments. When you’re getting support from others, it’s important to communicate YOUR way of running your home and managing your lifestyle to those supporting you. Making sure that your communications are clear and that those assisting you understand what you need from them.
Link to the psychology video on share the load/household meetings.
Applications such as the CareApp can also help you stay connected to family and your community by bringing providers, residents, carers and families together to build a wonderful care community and support seniors to love the way they live.
Carer Support does not specifically endorse any organisation, association or entity referred to in, or linked to, the Online Resources. Views or recommendations provided in linked websites do not necessarily reflect those of Carer Support and Carer Support has no responsibility for the content of the linked website(s). It is your responsibility to make your own decisions about the currency, completeness, accuracy, reliability and suitability of information contained in linked websites.