When you are providing loving, practical care for someone at home, many people will ask “what can I do to help?” Some will offer to drive, some will drop off more spaghetti bolognaise than you have ever seen, some will give helpful suggestions about a new form of treatment that helped their cousin last year, some will offer to mind your children for you.
As the saying goes: many hands do make light(er) work.
So it is a great idea to firstly select someone to be a coordinator of information. This person will be technologically savvy. They will be sharing information and keeping other people up-to-date, with the permission of you or your loved one.
The co-ordinator of information should:
- Make an email list , with permission of the person you are caring for
- Create a Google Drive with your medical and other appointments – so people can go on that drive and offer to take the person to their different medical and treatment appointments
- Create a list and timetable of providers- use Google Drive to see what dishes are being offered and when they can be delivered, what cleaning services or personal care people are offering and when they can come to your home to help
- Update medication lists and share them with people and family who need to know
- Take a photograph of every pill, write its name and strength so you have a memory bank of each pill the person takes. You can print this out and/or can share it around when needed.
There will be other ways you can use technology to ease the burden. When someone lovingly comes up with a good idea- eg a new alternative therapy that worked for their cousin last year- ask them to write it on the Google drive, then you can sift through and suggest to your loved one only some of the suggestions , at a time when they are ready to hear them. Too often we get overwhelmed with many different “friendly suggestions” at times when we are not ready to hear them.
Even doctors can sometimes be too helpful, especially when there are more than one doctor or service involved. So keep treatment limited to a maximum of three providers if possible, especially towards the end of life.
Most doctors do not want to offer to “opt out” of caring for you or your loved one, but if you tell them that really- another medical practitioner is taking over care and you do not need to double up, they will understand. You do not need to waste time and energy attending appointments because you think a doctor wants you to stay in touch with them.