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Get organized when caring for a loved one

According to a survey conducted by the Center to Advance Palliative Care, 70 percent of us will care for a seriously sick friend or family member at some point in our lives.

I became a part of this 70 percent when I had the privilege to care for my mother during her battle with terminal cancer. She came to live in our home so we could provide her with the love and care she needed as her life came to a close.

In addition to running my business and raising five children, I added the role of nurse to my already busy schedule. I worked round the clock administering IVs, providing wound care and other medical procedures that were foreign to me. Getting things organized was something that helped me master my new responsibilities.

I needed mom in a room near where I also took care of the rest of my family. She also had to be easily accessible to the medical team that would be caring for her in my home.

In our home all the bedrooms are located upstairs so I turned my formal dining room, which is just off our front door, into a “hospital” room. I hung shower curtains from spring loaded poles over the entrances to the room so she would have some privacy.

My dining room table was moved to the corner of the room, which became the work station the home care medical team used for their visits. I put a hospital bed in its place so I could reach my mother from either side of the bed while caring for her.

I removed my china from the hutch and it became the perfect storage space for mom’s medications, medical supplies and her toiletries. A small dresser from my child’s room stored her gowns and bedding.

Once I had the equipment and supplies set up in the room, I labeled everything. This made it easier for everyone who cared for her to find things and put them away. I added a wall calendar that listed her upcoming appointments.

In addition to setting up the room, I also created a binder that listed her medications and when she was to take them. I included her medical team’s contact information and family members’ phone numbers as well.

Keeping a diary that included her vital signs, medical history, her food intake and a list of questions I had for her doctors and nurses proved to be very valuable in caring for her.

Any caregiver knows that playing this role can be exhausting. By having Mom’s room organized, friends and family members were able to come in and temporarily give me a break because they could locate the necessary items needed to care for her.

I also hired two nursing students to tend to her when I had client appointments. They and the medical team often commented on how easy I made it for them to provide care for my mother. Their comments were comforting since I worried about leaving her.

Mom passed, my dining room is back to normal, but I cherish the memories of caring for her when she needed me the most. Having an organized room did make a difference in efficiently providing for her.

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