Two Lists & Two Journals
A family caregiver in a support group once shared what she considered to be a shameful secret. A friend gives her regular breaks, for which she is immensely grateful. The problem? She has no idea what to do with her extra time.
Oh, boy, is that common!
Your day is so full of action and worries that downtime can seem to doom you. No worries—we’ve got a great suggestion.
Create two lists, Job Jar and When I Can I Will, that stay put on your fridge so your lists can be easily updated.
Job Jar List
Your brother-in-law calls and says, “I have a free afternoon this weekend. I’ll stop to help out.” Your instinct may be to answer, “That’s okay, I’ve got everything under control” simply because you may think, “What in the world can he help with?”
As you go about your day, take note of chores to which you say, “I should do that, but I just don’t have time.” Maybe it’s fixing the knicks in the wall from the wheelchair, or cleaning out the car, or picking up books at the library. These are great chores to assign to others!
When I Can I Will List
When you have an idea of an place or activity you’d like to enjoy, write it down. For instance, when a new movie opens that looks good, write it down. When a friend suggests a great place to take a walk, write it down. When you pass a restaurant that looks good, write it down. When you think, I’d love to do that some day, write it down.
These two lists work well together. When a volunteer offers to help, ask them to choose a chore from your Job Jar list. While they help out, take some time for yourself; you’ll have plenty of ideas from your When I Can, I Will list.
Keep journals—one about your care recipient and one about you.
The journal about your care recipient contains a synopsis of day-to-day care needs; meals, bowel movements, weight, medications, moods, difficulties. You also record doctor visits, recommendations and treatment options.
Your care recipient’s journal is a great resource for you as seek the best care options possible, as well as you detail the reality of your care recipient’s care needs. It also becomes a manual for those who may have to step in and take your place on a short-term basis.
The journal about you chronicles your experiences–what hurts, what aches, what works, what succeeds. This is for your eyes only, so feel free to describe exactly how you feel. Your journal can become a great place to vent. (See our Journaling 101 series.)
With two lists and two journals, you build a strong foundation for your caregiving journey.