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Starting Your Role As Caregiver

(continued)

Getting Organized As a Caregiver continued...

Open a FedEx account. It will save your life at least once.

Supply Mom with a nice stack of stamped, return-addressed envelopes to make correspondence easier. You can even make up some labels with the addresses of people to whom she writes frequently.

Get a big wall calendar. Make entries for everything and encourage your parent to consult it often.

Help with letter writing when your parent can't seem to keep up with correspondence.

Assist in making phone calls when letter writing is no longer possible.

Whenever you decide to organize or rearrange things, let your father know about the changes, get his input if possible, and be patient as he readjusts. A frequent complaint of older adults is that they can't find anything!

Set up a fax machine in your parent's home. A fax machine can be useful if prescriptions are lost (and you have copies) or when important papers need to be consulted.

"Mom hates anything electronic and would have held on to her rotary phone if the phone company hadn't objected. So getting her a fax machine seemed out of the question. But I had an extra one and set it up in her apartment, and you should have seen how pleased she was the first time a fax came through. It was my ten-year-old daughter's drawing of her with her grandma! She loved it, and even though she won't touch the machine (I change the paper and film when I go over there), she loves hearing it go off, because she knows she will have a special message from someone. Most important, she knows we are thinking of her throughout the day as we fax her scrawled messages, sometimes with just a big bunch of Xs for the kisses we send her daily."
-Lara Fein

Establish routines. Seniors often lose track of time, especially after taking a nap. Instituting routines will help structure the day.

Hang a large bulletin board and tack up everything from reminders and receipts to keys, eyeglasses, important phone numbers, orphaned earrings, and the like.

Keep an extra set of everything: keys, eyeglasses, hearing aids (keep the old one in case the new one gets lost), IDs, and so forth.

Keep photocopies of all your parent's important ID and membership cards. Highlight the expiration dates and leave a helpful reminder as to when the cards need to be renewed.

Keep an overnight bag in your car with a few of your own things (such as a toothbrush, a nightshirt, a change of clothes) just in case life throws you a curve. It will!

Caregiving and Financial Matters

Cancel credit cards when they're rarely used, to simplify the mail and your parent's life.

WebMD Medical Reference

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