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    Starting Your Role As Caregiver

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    Getting Organized As a Caregiver continued...

    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.

    Phone and utility companies have special discounts and other services for seniors and the disabled: amplified phones, push-button phones, large-type bills, and so forth. Ask about what's available.

    Keep track of your parents' finances, to the extent that they allow you to do so. Offer to help with bureaucratic problems and other details (like getting an insurance adjustment or renewing licenses) for which your parents might not have the patience.

    Respect that most people consider money to be a private subject, and handle it gently. Sometimes, parents will open up about their finances; for example, if you mention your own concerns about retirement or estate planning. Ask their input on how they handled these matters.

    Recognize that giving up financial responsibilities represents a loss of control for many older adults. Don't take over all at once; perhaps Grandpa only needs help writing checks for now. Take it slowly.

    If you are in charge of your mother's finances, online banking will save you tons of time in bank visits and in being put on hold when you need to handle something. And you'll have an automatic record of every transaction.

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