If you are a full-time caregiver, or even part-time but the primary person responsible for someone else’s care, then you know all about paper work. It’s another one of the unpleasant aspects of caregiving that we have to endure but are all too often unprepared for or unfamiliar with. I’m very fortunate in that I have a healthcare background. I understand the reason behind all that information “they” gather and why it has to be reviewed every visit. I also know about insurance to a limited degree but more about that from personal experience than professional. All that being true; however, it still is difficult to keep up with all the paper (virtual or hardcopy) and still quite frustrating at times.
One of the things I did early in my caregiving “career” was to get a journal where I recorded all the events that happened in Lynn’s medical journey. I wrote down every doctor’s appointment, who he saw and for what and any changes to his medical regime. That has come in very handy when one of his many specialists asks me when something happened. Lynn has a mind for dates and events and can tell you right down to the exact date, and often the day of the week, when something happened…and he’s rarely wrong. Me, I can’t remember if my wedding anniversary is on October 10th or the 11th. When asked when something happened, I can give a general time frame (such as, when the kids were in grade school, high school, or college; before or after we were married…) but I do NOT remember dates; therefore, I have to write them down.
I also try to keep a running list of all his medications on my computer. I update it with any change and make sure it’s accurate before any medical appointment. I update the “current as of” date and always take it with me to give to the doctor. This saves time when the doctor or nurse is doing a “medication reconciliation” which is a Joint Commission requirement for hospitals and physician practices to be accreditated.
Knowing how important and helpful this information can be, I readily agreed when I was contacted by Tory Zellick to review an advanced copy of her book, “The Medical Day Planner: The Guide to Help Navigate the Medical Maze.” Tory, herself was one of the caregivers for her mother, who had a six-year struggle with cancer which she was unsuccessful in winning. This book arose from Tory’s struggle to help organize her mother’s care and help everyone who participated in the caregiving to stay up to date. Maybe, if you are the sole caregiver, you would not find it as helpful as those who have multiple people helping out, but I think that even if you are the primary caregiver, you would find this Medical Planner to be a handy tool to help keep all the essential information about your loved one in one place.
The book is well-organized, sectioned into categories of responsiblity like medications, appointments, important phone numbers, etc. Within each section are worksheets for recording pertinent information on that topic as well as narratives related to the information being gathered. The narratives are basic and to the point, written in a common-sense approach without too much formal interpretation–just what she found she needed to understand to be able to accurately understand the information needed.
The Medical Day Planner is a spiral notebook type presentation but hard cover so it’s durable. My only constructive criticism, which isn’t a criticism at all but a personal preference, is that I would have preferred it be in a three-ring binder instead of a spiral binding so the 52-week planner at the end could be replaced annually with new sheets. Being in a spiral binder, it renders the planner limited to one year and as we all know, if you’re caring for someone with MS, you’re looking at years instead of weeks of caregiving. Therefore, that section is not as useful to me but the rest of the Planner is excellent. It would also have been helpful to have a “pocket” inside the back or front cover to insert documents that you might want to take with you to appointments.
I’m not sure when the book will be available for purchase but you can check it out further if you are interested by checking out her website, http://allthingscaregiver.com/. The advanced copy I received also had a sticker that states, “for wholesale information contact, Michele Farrington – firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s worth taking a look to see if you might find it helpful.
Thanks, Tory, for sharing what you learned and for letting me review your work.