The 10 Must Have Tools of My Trade #CarersWeek

Carers Week 2015Carers Week is drawing to a close and as 60% of people will become a carer at some point in their lives I thought I’d share some of the tools I use to care for my mother.

1. Online Calendar

In the digital age, this is an absolute must. I use Google Calendar as it’s free and allows to me to access it on my phone, tablet and laptop. Colour coding appointments is exceptionally helpful. I use red for mum’s medical appointments, green for my events, yellow for optional things and blue for deliveries I need to be home to receive.

2. A4 Week-to-view Diary

A physical diary to note down everything that medically affects my mother which enables me to monitor and anticipate needs. I write down what doctors say during consultations, whether I’ve observed any abnormal symptoms or behaviour and changes in medication. As a quick reference I use highlighters to colour code different medical institutions, for example orange is for the GP, green is for the private hospital and blue for my local NHS hospital.

3. Dosset Box

These are pill boxes which can either be made up with your medications by a pharmacist or you can do it yourself. I’m using an Anabox I bought from Amazon. I loved it so much I bought another. This brand has a colourful range of options to choose from to fit every need.

4. Medication Schedule

You can download my template HERE. I’ve divided up the day into four periods: waking up, Midday, 16:00 and before bed. Tracking irregular doses of medications is the schedule’s main reason for use.

5. Search Engine

If you have a need for adaptions or aids, then search for them online. You can rent, lease or buy many items, small and large. And they don’t have to be boring. I purchased purple crutches for my mum.

6. Support System

Family, friends, carer groups and online forums, local services, etc. Here’s a handy list of places to gain support. Every carer needs people to complain to, to use as a sounding board and to ask for advice.

7. Your Doctor

You must make your own health a priority to enable you to continue looking after your charge, so visit your doctor.

8. Regular Exercise

Team sports, swimming, yoga, zumba, pilates – it doesn’t matter what so long as you get your heart pumping. Exercise can relieve stress and the endorphins it releases can make you feel happier and more robust. Your heart will thank you for it.

9. Hobbies and Activities

Do things to maintain and improve your mental health. Find activities and hobbies to do while in and outside the house. Things that relax you and that take your mind off your responsibilities. Read, go to the cinema, do jigsaws – whatever takes your fancy.

10. Budget Plan

Money is always an issue. First find out what you and your charge are entitled to from the government. In the UK, full-time carers qualify for Carer’s Allowance and Income Support while your charge may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independent Payment. For ESA and PIP claims always include photocopies of GP records (which you can request) as evidence of diagnosis and whether the condition is permanent, debilitating and/or degenerative. Always include letters from specialists.

Once that’s out of the way, compare prices for all of your utilities and switch companies and tariffs to save money. Find the best bank and savings accounts. Compare credit card, insurance and mortgage deals. Research the best places to shop for groceries and household supplies. Once you’ve done this you can make a budget. Money Saving Expert is a great online resource.

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