Are you caring for a loved one? While we hate that someone may need the following resources, we want you to be prepared in the event you become a caretaker of a loved one with an illness. A little guidance and organization can go a long way in fighting feeling overwhelmed.
Many of us will serve as a caretaker for a loved one at some point in our lives. Whether an elderly parent or family member or someone with a health diagnosis. We want to arm you with the tools you need to manage your caretaking responsibilities!
Here are 3 great resources for caretakers, all part of our A Plan for Health Collection created by Whitney English and nurse practitioner, Johna Jenkins.
- Digital Wellness Guidebook
- Medical Binder
- Medical Organizer Notebook
We’ll dig into the specifics of each resource, some of which are absolutely free, and share some tips as well. Serving as a caretaker can be an extremely overwhelming experience. While we can’t take all the stress out of the experience, we can help you get organized. When you put a system in place, like organizing your loved one’s medical information, you have a structure to fall back on when times get tough. Use your mental energy for the important stuff!
Let’s dig into these resources for caretakers!
Digital Wellness Guidebook
This guidebook will arm you with the tools you need to create a plan for health. This is a great resource to use when first starting out as a caretaker, and for loved ones that might not need daily care.
There are so many varying resources, approaches, and individual needs—not to mention wellness trends and fads that take over our collective consciousness around “health.” It can be hard to know where to start, and difficult to determine what is right for your loved one.
We created this digital resource to help you think about wellness goals because we know health is not one-size-fits-all. This system was developed from Johna’s personal experiences—as a medical practitioner, as someone directly navigating a chronic illness, and as a caretaker for her son who deals with a long-term illness. There are so many frustrations that come along with a medical diagnosis, most of which we cannot control. Organizing your medical information is one thing we CAN control, and this guidebook is going to help you do just that.
It’s broken down into three sections: creating a plan for health, caretaker resources, and health maintenance. In the first section, we’ll walk you through the 5 steps to creating a plan.
- Identifying health goals
- Creating a medical binder
- Preparing your calendar for the year
- Setting up a health tracking system
- Regular check-ins help you enjoy peace of mind!
In the last section, we include a 7-day health challenge that can be fun to do with your loved one! This digital guidebook is a quick and easy way to get started with medical organization. Simply download the guidebook and you’re ready to dig in!
We’ve mentioned before how important it is to have a family medical binder. For an individual with complex medical issues, we suggest creating a dedicated binder for your loved one! If you’ve recently taken over caretaking responsibilities or you need to get all the papers and notes in one dedicated spot, we’ll walk you through exactly what to include in the medical binder!
Any 3-ring binder can serve as a medical binder, though we have a cute selection of binders, tab dividers, and page protectors in our Binder System Collection. Grab whatever 3-ring binder works for you and jump in!
Here’s a list of everything we’d include in the medical binder, having a dedicated divider for each of the following sections:
Name: Place your loved one’s medical organizer notebook in a clear sleeve in this section. We’ll talk more about the notebook below!
Visits: Include all medical visit summaries here. If you have several specialists, you may consider separating each specialty with a divider page. For instance:
- Family Doctor
- Physical Therapy
- Hospital Discharge Summaries
Medications: Place the medication instructions and information that you receive from your pharmacy in clear sleeves in case you need to reference this information.
Labs: Any lab work that you have had done and its results
Surgeries and Procedures: You can place each surgery and procedure result in a clear page protector with its results or summary. These will usually also include your discharge instructions.
Official Documents: These may include Handicapped Parking Passes, Physicals, Workman’s Comp forms, Mental Status Examination, Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney
Medical Organizer Notebook
One of the things Johna has really taught me is the importance of having a medical organizer notebook for each member of your family, especially if you’re serving as a caretaker for a loved one with an illness or diagnosis.
A medical organizer notebook is simply a notebook that includes all the important medical information of an individual that can be used in an emergency! Johna says it best:
It has been my experience, as both patient and caregiver, that when you’re in an emergency room or exam room—often times of crisis and stress—it can be difficult to recall a lot of health information. In those moments, you won’t want to focus on or worry about completing paperwork; instead, you’ll naturally be preoccupied with the care and wellbeing of your loved one. That’s where the medical organizer really helps you. Having all of the information already separated and at the fingertips means you are merely transcribing rather than recalling, and risking forgetting, some very important information that could have life-threatening consequences.— Johna Jenkins, RN, FNP-C
Use a notebook (we have one specifically designed for this purpose) to gather all of this information in one place. Here are five tips when creating your own or filling out a medical organizer notebook!
1. Create a list of important contacts; be sure to note people who would be designated to help in certain situations. Make sure that you make clear in what order you would like people contacted. Some examples include:
- can pick up kids from school
- has key to house
- can let out/take care of pet
- can get mail/packages
- will pay bills/manage checking account
- church pastor
- small group leader
- prayer chain contact
- best friend
2. Make sure your caregiver knows at all times where your medical organizer is located. In some instances, it may be wise to keep an additional copy of your medical organizer with your caregiver or Durable Medical Power of Attorney. This way, if you are taken to the hospital via ambulance, your DPOAH can meet you at the hospital and bring their copy with them.
3. Keep a blank sticky note in the front of the medical organizer; if you need to update some information but cannot take the time to thoroughly do so at the moment, you can jot down a reminder to update a certain topic later.
4. Consider making a front and back copy of your insurance cards (and possibly ID if kept in a safe location) and clip them inside your medical organizer. If you ever lose or forget your cards, copies are there for you to use at your appointments.
5. Consider making a list of all the things that need to be packed in case of a trip or hospital stay, and note their locations. If someone needs to pack a bag for you, this will make both of your lives so much easier!
That’s it! We hope any one of these three resources for caretakers will arm you with the tools you need to manage your caretaking responsibilities. Getting organized helps, even in a small way, to fight the overwhelm. We’re wishing you and your loved ones the absolute best!
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