Contributed by Tiffany Silverberg
A care calendar can be among your closest allies in your caregiving journey. Your care calendar puts a date and time to the many tasks that need to get done, allowing others to step up and help you. Here are a few tips to help get started using a care calendar so you can rest easy knowing that upcoming tasks are organized and assigned.
Assign a Point of Contact
Your care calendar saves you from the tyranny of the well-meaning “How can I help?” questions. With a quick glance, you can see precisely how they can help and details like when and where. Making your care calendar public allows others who are eager to help get involved. Ask a friend or family member to be the point of contact for the care calendar to alleviate your stress. This person can update the calendar as needed and field questions from those who want to help.
As you get started using a care calendar, prioritize your needs and the needs of those you care for. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start organizing a care calendar:
- Which obligations are critical versus convenient?
- What duties can you delegate that would truly make your schedule lighter and more efficient?
- What would give you and those you care for peace and assurance?
- Which tasks would have to be dismissed if you don’t have some help with them?
- Are there appointments that occur during the same time frame?
Start your care calendar with a few tasks that these questions bring to mind.
As you begin assigning tasks to the care calendar, consider how you might break them down into smaller tasks. Your volunteers and support system may find it easier to help with tasks if they are broken down into portions or specific items on your To Do list. For instance, if you need meals provided for a day while you run to appointments or spend the day at the hospital, categorize them into the types of meals. Do you need breakfast, lunch and dinner? If you just need dinner, ask one friend to bring an entrée and another to bring a side or dessert. If you need help cleaning up the house, break it down into rooms. Those with more time and resources can always volunteer for more, but smaller tasks give more people more opportunities to help.
Maintain Balanced Outlook
Your care calendar allows you to schedule tasks days, weeks, even months in advance. This can give you peace of mind and ease stress, as appointments come up and schedules change. You can assign tasks as you add items to your calendar and know that the scheduled days will run smoothly. It also gives your friends and family members plenty of time to plan, especially if they need to take time off work, prepare an item, shop or run errands.
Keep a balanced view. Needs and situations change often. What you think you need today may not in fact be what you need in 6 months. Keep tasks on the calendar a month or two out to allow for easy planning and last-minute changes if they arise.
Now is the time to explain exactly how people can help you and your loved ones. Be specific when delegating your tasks, giving as much information as possible down to brand items you or loved ones require. Volunteers want to help, so letting them know exactly where they need to be and when as well as what items are needed allows them to provide the assistance they want. If some things don’t matter, like which brand of toilet paper they bring or what style lasagna they prepare, you want to give them leeway. But when it comes to health needs, allergies, and more, make sure you let them know exactly how they can best help.