Caregiving for a parent or grandparent can be complex. Family caregivers must learn how to balance lives full of responsibilities with their parent’s or grandparent’s’ lives.
Life hacks, tips and tricks, can help family caregivers find smarter, easier ways to accomplish everyday activities or solve common problems — all without breaking a sweat. Here are 13 ways to work smarter, not harder.
- Become a Techie: Caregivers usually have their minds full of to-dos, but apps are available to detangle and organize chores, appointments and more. For instance, pill tracking apps can tell you what medications your loved ones should take and when. Visit our reviews on various apps here.
- Network With Family: Use Google Docs to keep all family members up-to-date on their loved one’s health. Share notes from doctor appointments, track medication symptoms or whatever else is important to their care. Google Docs is especially useful for multiple family caregivers or long-distance caregiving. You can learn how to use Google Docs by clicking here.
- Organize Medicines: Consider using a tool box, tackle box or craft box to store your loved one’s medication bottles in one place. With these organizational totes, you have more freedom for customization and more room for pills. Then use a pill organizer for daily medication doses.
- All in One: It can be inconvenient to shop for food for your older loved one and then return to buy food for your own household. Instead, try shopping together. It may be a larger haul, but you will save time and gas. Bring a cooler or insulated bags for your own perishables, so they can stay fresh while you help your loved one put away their groceries. Alternatively, grocery market chains such as Meijer, Walmart, ShopRite and Safeway offer online shopping, where you can pick up your groceries at the store or have them delivered.
- Food Prep Party: If you are planning and prepping meals for your loved one in advance, many hands make the work light. Invite friends and family over to help prepare meals and snacks for the upcoming week. You can learn more tips here.
- Think Big: Keep a large wall calendar or whiteboard at your parent of grandparent’s house for doctor appointments or anything else important, so family members and others providing care know what is coming up. Mark these dates in your own personal calendar.
- Pack Your Bags: Doctor appointment days can be long and sometimes boring, especially if you and your loved are in waiting rooms for long periods of time. You can beat the boredom by filling a bag for your loved one. Include chargers for important electronics; a CD, MP3 player or iPod with favorite music or podcasts; a DVD player with a favorite movie or TV show; books, magazines and/or puzzles; pens and paper. Also pack necessities like wipes; tissues; a change of clothes; healthy snacks and drinks; and/or copies of important paperwork.
- At the Ready: Set alarms on your smart phone or alarm clock to go off when your loved one needs to take medication. That way, you can be sure they take their medications at the same time every day.
- Reach Out: If your parent or grandparent lives alone, call their neighbors or nearby friends and enlist their help. If you can’t make it to your loved one’s house for a visit or are concerned about them, you can ask their neighbors or friends to check up on them.
- Always Be Prepared: Keep a folder with a list of your loved one’s medications, doctors, important phone numbers and other related materials in your car. Or scan and email the information to yourself so it is readily available on your smartphone. If there is ever an emergency, you are prepared.
- Save Your Strength: If your older loved one can’t reposition themselves in bed or slide while sitting up, place a thick folded sheet under them. With help from another, you can adjust your loved one by pulling or lifting the sheet. Please use caution so you don’t hurt yourself or them.
- Be Flexible: Buy bendy straws for beverages. Using straws can make drinking easier for your loved one when they are lying back in bed or reclining in a chair. Fun fact: The first purchaser of the modern bendy straw was a hospital, as nurses saw the benefits for patients who were confined to their beds.
- Find Your Community: Join an online or local caregiver group to swap advice and share your story with fellow caregivers. You can start by Googling “family caregiver support groups.” Many of our offices host DementiaWise® Family Skills and Support Groups as well. Contact your local ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care
Try some of our above life hacks, tips and tricks to help uncomplicate caregiving. However, the best caregiver tip to utilize is respite care. Our respite care services allow you to rest, relax and recharge while our professional caregiver assists your loved one with their everyday activities, such as bathing and meal preparation.