The responsibilities that come with being a primary caregiver can weigh heavily on anyone’s shoulders. With so much to think about and consider, it’s hard for many to stay on top of all the medical information they’re in charge of. Thankfully, there are productive ways to organize medical information and focus on caregiving.
Here are nine ways primary caregivers stay on top of medical information.
1. They Make Lists for Everything
Lists are helpful when it comes to having concise and ordered information. Some good lists to implement include:
- Side effects and symptoms
- Contact numbers
- Insurance information
- Appointment schedules
- Informational articles and research
2. They Use Notebooks and Journals to Track Signs and Symptoms
Keep all your lists in one place, such as a notebook, which is dedicated to the information you need as a primary caregiver. You can call it your healthcare notebook and customize it any way you want. Having a notebook dedicated to caregiving allows you to update new information and track progress, as well as stay organized.
3. They Find a Filing System for Records and Copies
Using labels and file folders helps you create a storage space for all your information. If you want to have easy access and take it with you, a three-ring binder system works too. Bring the binder to every appointment and update the different sections with organizers, folders and labels.
4. They Ask Questions
With all the information you have to keep track of, you’re bound to have questions such as:
- What does being a primary caregiver entail?
- How long will you take on this role?
- Will there be changes to your loved ones’ home and financial lives?
- Will they need insurance?
- Will they have to live with you?
- How will you cope with the varying emotions and stress?
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to help. For example, it’s great to ask questions in online forums, support groups and doctor appointments. Having questions demonstrates just how much you care, and it can ease your own fears.
5. They Optimize Electronics for Communication and Education
When it comes to tracking information, you can also go digital. With a computer you can:
- Document family health histories
- Research medical conditions
- Access online forums to see and submit questions
- See full reports and test results shared by your doctor or labs
- Find websites and communities offering resources and support
- Attend informational webinars
6. They Try Apps
Advances in technology mean there are apps to help with organizational concerns and caregiving. There are even apps dedicated to certain illnesses, which offer tips and advice. It’s a great way to use technology and quickly check symptoms without running to the doctor right away.
7. They Have a Plan With Every Day and Visit
Whether it’s remembering appointments or giving the right medications at the right time, organized caregivers block off time for everyday essentials. Start each day knowing exactly what’s on the schedule or needs discussed and use the plan to simplify decision-making and asking questions.
8. They Establish Open Communication With Doctors
If you feel lost and confused, you’re not the only one. Doctors and other professionals are there to help and have wells of information for you. Establishing an open communication path gives you access to the answers you need.
Caregivers may also have to determine a patients’ health benefits and find information about insurance policies. This means that communicating with healthcare professionals may be a normal task one should be comfortable with.
Whether it’s by providing status updates or confirming appointments, showing that you are invested in your patient or loved one’s treatment and health will make you a more productive caregiver. Ask them your questions. Voice your concerns. Walk through processes and procedures with them.
9. They Keep a PHR
A PHR is a personal health record. The PHR includes copies of test results, lists of medications and allergies and contact information for next-of-kin. Having a PHR can make sure your loved one or patient receives safe and accurate medical care.
Many PHRs are digital, which means data gets sent to you directly from your doctor. Having a PHR takes the pressure off you when it comes to knowing and remembering medical specifics such as test results.
You’re Not Alone
If you don’t feel organized yet, don’t worry. Others have been in your shoes and found their ways to becoming productive and organized caregivers. You will, too! You’re not alone, and you don’t have to go through caregiving alone.
Take the caregiving and organizing approach that works for you and your loved one or patient. There’s no right or wrong way to stay on top of medical information when you have a system that works for you. After all, what matters is the joy and rewarding experience of caregiving.
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo’s Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website: http://productivitybytes.com.