Monthly Archives: June 2012

Keeping your caregiver brain straight

I remember the little black and white speckled notepad my mother kept in her purse for years after our car accident.  She kept quips, quotes, and tips in it from other parents and medical professionals she met along the way.  I didn’t really understand the significance of the notepad until I saw her tear up during a talk about surviving as a family recovering from trauma.  For her and many other family members I’ve spoken with, being able to write out what is in your head not only gives you the chance to organize your thoughts but gives you clarity.

For my mother, the note pad was one of the methods she used for coping and keeping her brain straight.  The other day, I asked her about the other tools she used in the early days. Here are a few simple and inexpensive things that family caregivers can do to make the most of their brain power.

The Notebook

Keep your notes, concerns, ideas, phone calls, and any changes to services related to the condition in a dedicated notebook (or in a notebook app such as the iPad’s Notepad). The notebook is “dedicated” because its sole purpose is to keep running tabs on the condition. It’s different from a diary because you want to be able to bring it a doctor or refer to when you need to remember when that medication was changed or who you spoke to regarding an insurance claim. It’s your log, your timeline of events, and ultimately, it is your mirror to reflect on how far your family has come.

The Note Pad

My mother kept a note pad in her purse for years after the car accident to keep track of tips, stories, suggestions, new products, tests, inspirational quotes and all the rest of the tidbits of information that flooded in on a daily basis. “It was my way of keeping my head straight. In the beginning, there is so much information coming your way, so many people trying to offer their advice, and things to remember. With the note pad, I could quickly jot down a note so I wouldn’t forget.”

The File Folder

You need some place to keep all of the printed medical stuff- receipts, statements, doctor’s orders, and therapy instructions. If you don’t have time to organize the different pieces, no worries, just make sure to file them. Otherwise, they get mixed up in the junk mail throw-away pile.

Simple and easy record keeping can save you a lot of stress and future challenges by helping you “cover all the bases” and track what you’ve done. All in all, the better organized you are, the more brain power you’ll have to focus on you, your family, and putting the pieces of life back together.

Are you a caregiver, family member, or an individual with a medical condition?  How do you keep your brain straight?