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Jolene
BY Jolene
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How to Create and Use a Caregiver’s Calendar

Caregiving is a multifaceted undertaking. It’s a relationship that encompasses the tending of a loved one’s physical, emotional, and social needs. More often than not, meeting those needs requires a good deal of planning and organization.

But, as caregivers know, planning and organization takes time, an unruly commodity that can be hard to control. This post, the second in a series about organizational systems for caregivers, looks at ways to use a month-by-month calendar to better tame your time.

How to Create a Month-by-Month Calendar

An inexpensive way to create calendars is to download and print them out. Just type “downloadable monthly calendars” in your browser’s search engine, and you’ll find plenty to choose from. Once you select and print out a style you like, it can be stored in a three-ring binder.

Of course, all that searching, printing, punching, and storing takes time. Which is already in short supply. So instead of spending your time creating monthly calendars, consider purchasing a planner instead. You can buy them on the internet, but a visit an office supply store makes it easier to examine your options up close and compare choices.

If you want a planner specifically designed for caregivers, I recommend Tory Zellick’s Medical Day Planner. If you prefer electronic calendars over paper and pencil, search for an app to purchase and download onto your phone or tablet.

How to Use a Month-by-Month Calendar

Now that you have a calendar or calendar app, what should be recorded on it? Here are a few ideas:

  • Doctor and therapy appointments
  • In-home health care provider visits
  • Reminders to order supplies and medications
  • Special events
  • Respite care
  • Menus

By using the calendar faithfully, it become more than a schedule organizer. It becomes a resource to consult when a new provider inquires about your loved one’s medical history, when insurance companies need specific dates for services rendered, or as verification for tax purposes. On occasion, you may be able to photocopy and submit calendar pages as documentation.

Oh, and one last thing. Use the calendar for caregiver self-care. Every month, schedule some respite days–or half days or a few hours–for yourself. Ask family members and friends to sign up to care for your loved one during those times while you take a much-needed break.

How to Create a Calendar Habit

Becoming accustomed using a calendar, making a habit of it, is often the biggest challenge caregivers face. To make it happen, keep your hard copy calendar in a highly visible place. Attach a pencil or pen to it, so you never have to hunt for them. If you’re using an app, keep your electronic device handy at all times.

Take your planner, phone, or tablet with you to all your loved one’s appointments. That way, you can schedule the next appointment and enter it immediately. The more important information you store on your calendar, the more often you will consult it, and the sooner it will become a habit.

Finally, remember that it takes at least six weeks for a new habit to become automatic. So give yourself enough time to get used to your calendar…maybe even a little longer…to feel natural. About the time that happens, I’ll be back with new ideas about how to organize your caregiving duties.

Jolene

Written on July 28, 2014 by:

Jolene Philo's first child, Allen, was born with a life-threatening birth defect that required 7 surgeries from birth to age five. She taught students with special needs in a variety of settings during her 25 years in education. Her book, Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs was released by DHP in November of 2011. She also blogs about special needs at www.DifferentDream.com.
  • Nice overview Jolene! The chaos that often accompanies trying to keep everyone on the same page was one of the driving forces behind creating Birdhouse for Autism (http://birdhousehq.com). I’d encourage you to take a peek at what we’re building as well and consider including it as part of the organizational systems series 🙂

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  • Jolene Philo

    Thanks for the heads up, Ben. It looks like an awesome system. Now, if I can just remember it until writing the next post in the series!

  • Sarah Hawk

    I would add digital options. I do everything on google because I can send the calendar to all my service providers and sync every phone and device with the google calender. I also keep a School Services calender on my Gdrive which has every normal specialist vist slot time and my and my son’s availability. It makes it easy for my specialists to pick blocks of time out and stops the no call no show, or double booking issues.

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  • Krissy

    I agree. Using Birdhouse has been great on our computer and now on my phone and tablet. You just need to make sure to update it with your child’s information and stuff on a daily to weekly basices. Now that reminds me I need to play catch up with it this week.

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