Wednesday, July 8, 2015

You CAN Thrive

"That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:17-19

Rooted in Love: You CAN Thrive

 Practical Tips for Successful Caregiving

When our son was paralyzed in a fall back in 1997, we were told it would be “impossible” to care for him at home. We were determined that he wasn't going to a nursing facility, though. He came home with us after his discharge from the hospital, and he has been at home ever since. We are thankful for the support of family, friends, and the medical community which have helped make the “impossible” a reality. Every day we are thankful to a faithful God who has taught us this:

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” – Luke 1:37 NKJV

“Possible,” however, doesn’t mean “easy.” Caregiving is a marathon, an ongoing investment in the life of another human being. Since our son’s medical needs require twenty-four-hour supervision, it has been imperative that we develop strategies to cope with the pressure.

Over the years, I’ve learned some vital practical tips for keeping sane. Today I want to share one tip that has helped me.

Simplify your home

I know that's lots easier to say than to do. Especially if you're a new caregiver, you may feel like you have the energy for anything else. But life beyond caregiving does go on. Along with caring for your loved one, there are bills to pay, birthdays to remember, and appointments to make. I recently had to spend hours digging through twenty years of non-digital photos for a memorial service for a relative. Nothing was in the right place. Nothing was dated. What a mess! It was my reminder that a couple of simple changes could have kept this from happening.

Hopefully, I learned my lesson.

Trust me. Life is easier if you get organized.

1. Use what’s on hand. 

Get shoe boxes (or plastic tubs if you want to invest in them). Label them “Pics,” “2015 Receipts,” etc. Set them in a place where they will be easily accessible. When you run across a receipt, photo, or anything else you need to save, throw it in the right box right then and there.

2. Label photos immediately. 

Take the extra 30 seconds to write a date and any other pertinent info on the back of non-digital photos before you toss them into the abyss of a box. Believe me, there will come a time someone will thank you for that.

3. File, file, file. 

Place important papers and medical information in file folders and 3-ring binders. Don’t turn this into a project. Just grab some folders at the store, label them, and put them in a drawer or box that you can keep handy. The important thing is to get into the habit of tossing things in the right place right away, before they get lost in a pile or, God forbid, thrown away.

If you’re tech savvy, you can take screenshots or digital pics of bills and papers and file them digitally. Be sure to back them up on a system like the cloud, external hard drive, or flash drive.

The important thing is to know yourself. Don’t set up a system that you’re not going to use. I’m old-school, and that’s why I love using file folders and boxes. It’s so easy to just pitch them in their proper place. But do what works for you.

4. Communicate. 

Keep a large calendar in the kitchen with a pen and sticky notes nearby. This way, family members post their appointments and events on the calendar so everybody knows what’s going on for a particular day. 

Let's get started!

Just doing these things should help relieve the mental burden of trying to coordinate a home and caregiving duties. We'll be sharing more as we explore how to survive - and even thrive - as caregivers.

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