Welcome to House of Light, a blog produced and managed by the staff of Casa de la Luz Hospice. Casa de la Luz ("house of light" in Spanish) is a locally owned and operated hospice, serving the city and surrounding communities of Tucson, Arizona. Through this blog, we hope to offer education, information, and support about caregiving and hospice care to terminally ill patients and their loved ones. For more information, visit the contact us page.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tools for Family Caregivers

As a family caregiver, numerous tools are available to help make life easier, more efficient, or just to give you a little extra information and support. Here are a few tools we found. Some may work for you, and some may not. Apply what does, discard what doesn't.

Caregiver Self-Assessment
The American Medical Association offers a free, downloadable Caregiver Health Self-Assessment questionnaire in a pdf format in English and Spanish. Research shows that many family caregivers experience a decline in their own health. Take this self-assessment to determine if you might be at high risk for distress, and then consult with your physician or local resources that assist family caregivers or elderly adults.

Digital Calendars
Sometimes, caregiving duties are split among family members. If that's the case in your family, a good shareable calendar tool, like Google Calendar, can help you manage responsibilities, tasks, and appointments. Use the calendar to input your loved ones' appointments, and as a way to keep track of whose day it is to fulfill caregiving duties. Digital calendars can also send reminders, perhaps as an alert via your phone or email. There are multiple digital calendar options, so if Google doesn't work for you, we suggest finding one that does. We appreciate that it's a free option and should sync with Android smartphones.

AARP Care Provider Locator
It's OK to ask for help sometimes, especially if you are the primary family caregiver. A multitude of options exist for aging adults. The difficulty is in deciding what kind and how much assistance you might need. The AARP Care Provider Locator defines a few of the care options available, including home health, assisted living, and adult day programs. You can find what's available in your area by using the zip code search tool.

Menu Planner
We know that sometimes even the most basic tasks, like eating, can get away from a family caregiver. Sit down for a few minutes at the beginning of each week with a menu planner so that every meal isn't a burden or easy to skip. A menu planner can also make grocery planning simpler, faster, and cheaper. You might choose a digital one to keep on your smartphone or computer, or choose a calendar printout that you can hang on the fridge. Fill it with meals that are quick, easy to prepare, or make-ahead. Think slow cooker meals, sandwiches, salads, or freezer meals.

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