Senior Living: Family Caregivers must make best use of time

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By BETH DOW, Solutions by Beth

You may know February as the month that brings us Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day and even American Heart Month, but did you know that February is also Time Management Month.  

Yep!  The shortest month of the year is designated as the month for us to focus on time management.  Makes sense to me.  After all, February only gives us 28 days to do what it normally takes us 30 or 31 days to do.

And if life has already added to your plate the extra care of a loved one, well then, it is time to figure out how to make the best use of your time and still have some time for you.

A recent study showed that 49 percent of family caregivers routinely arrive or leave work early due to caring for a loved one.  Full-time employees who care for a loved one average 34.7 hours of work out of a 40-hour week.  And this doesn’t count all the hours spent helping during “off work” hours.  In fact, most family caregivers spend 21 hours a week caring for or providing a service for a loved one.

 In the beginning stages of caring for my mom and dad, the most schedule conflicting task was transportation to all the doctor appointments, grocery store, hairdresser, etc.   Funny thing, their appointments and my work schedule always happened at the same time.  And guess which one lost out??? My work schedule.

Consider hiring someone to help transport your loved one to all their appointments.  When you compare the cost to your time and wages lost, you will probably find that the cost of hiring someone to provide transportation for your loved one actually saves you money.

There’s also the time-consuming task of grocery shopping for your loved one or taking them to the grocery store. In today’s world of delivery,   there are so many ways to have groceries brought right to your loved one’s door and there is no reason not to do it.  It does take a little time to set up, but that initial time investment gives you a big return in found time.  And there really are some great home-delivered meal subscriptions, that you just heat and eat.

Think through what tasks someone else could easily do – transportation, housekeeping, yardwork, meal prep, errands. There is assistance out there.  It takes some planning but in the long run it will help.

If you need extra help with time management, there are many time-management apps available.  Evernote, Grammarly, RescueTime, and Focus are just a few.

Use this shortest month of the year to save you time all year long.  Plan today for more time tomorrow.

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. Readers can contact her at [email protected].

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