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
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.