Five Questions to Help You Stay Organized


Five Questions to Help You Stay Organized


It’s easy to become overwhelmed as a family caregiver. The list of caregiver duties can be intimidating. Sometimes you may not even know where to start. When organizing care for your loved one, you might want to create a checklist of all the tasks that need to be done. Although checklists are helpful, if you focus exclusively on them, you may feel like you’re running yourself ragged. You and your loved one will be less overwhelmed, less intimidated, and more confident if you implement a strategic approach to care organization. 

During the April #CareChat for, I presented five questions that will help you get organized as a caregiver in a thoughtful and proactive way.

While these questions may appear to be simplistic, you will be surprised at how much clarity you can bring to your caregiving plans if you step back from your checklist to periodically review these questions and allow the answers to guide how you’re organizing a loved one’s care. 

Question #1: What care is required?

This is always the first question to ask in organizing care. Let your loved one’s care-related requirements dictate the care that must be organized. If you’re not asking yourself this question first, it’s like trying to play a game without knowing the rules. A thoughtful review of the care receiver’s needs will enable you to target your efforts on what is necessary and identify what can be reevaluated or set aside.

Question #2: When will care be required?

There are temporal dimensions to caregiving that you start to notice after you’ve been doing it for a while. First, you realize that caregiving demands time. Your loved one’s chronic care-related requirements don’t follow your personal calendar, and you will need to make schedule adjustments in accordance with their needs. Additionally, you may discover that your loved one’s condition is continually evolving, and in the future they may require new types and forms of care. (Which will take you back to Question #1.) 

Question #3: Where will your loved one receive care?

This is an important question that will significantly impact how you organize your loved one’s care. There are a variety of factors that may influence where your loved one will receive care, including your loved one’s health condition and course of treatment, access to functional supports, and their personal goals and desires. Organizing care for a loved one who wishes to stay at home will look quite different from plans to move a loved one into a long-term care facility. 

Question #4: Who will provide care?

Skilled medical professionals provide the chronic care that your loved one needs in medical settings. If your loved one requires a lot of doctor visits or medical procedures, you may be spending much of your time interacting with skilled care providers. Long-term services and supports, such as custodial or companionship care, may be provided by you by family and friends, by providers who go to your loved one’s home, or by staff in long-term care facilities. 

Question #5: How will you pay for care?

Although this is the last question on the list, it has the potential to dramatically impact your response to all of the other questions. If your loved one is relying on a third party (such as an insurance company or a government program) to fund care, the payer may impose restrictions on benefits, coverage, or payment for services. Such restrictions are likely to shape what care is actually delivered, who provides it, and when/where care will be received. Out-of-pocket payments offer a greater array of options, but they come with potential increased costs to you. As a result, how you pay for care can be viewed as the linchpin in organizing care.

The Ongoing Process of Care Organization

Remember that today’s care arrangements may not be suited to tomorrow’s situation. As the needs of your loved one continue to evolve over time, you will find yourself making corresponding adjustments to your care plans. Periodically review the above questions to evaluate not only where you are but also where you need to be, and modify your plans. When you recognize that care organization is a fluid and ongoing process, you will be more effective and adaptable at meeting your loved one’s needs through the long trajectory of chronic care.


About the Contributor

Aaron Blight, Ed.D., is the author of When Caregiving Calls: Guidance as You Care for a Parent, Spouse, or Aging Relative and the founder of Caregiving Kinetics

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