Being a caregiver is stressful, and it's vital to your own well being that you structure your days to provide the best care with the least amount of stress on both you and your parent. The key to avoiding chaos is to plan ahead as much as possible, so here are some tips on structuring your caregiving routine:
While a structured day may be your goal no day stands alone. Start planning your schedule a week at a time so you have all upcoming appointments blocked in on the appropriate days. Then make a list of your daily activities and duties, noting any differences such as Wednesday being your sister's turn to take care of Dad. Get a notebook with sections and label them according to your needs. For example, if Dad has diabetes you can use a section to indicate readings, times, and meals so that whoever is in charge at the moment has a handy reference for all vital information.
Schedule time for yourself. Whether it's a family member, friend, or neighborhood "sitter," you need to take personal time to replenish your energy. Plan time out for exercise, reading, or some other type of relaxation so you don't burn out from caregiving.
Have a weekly care meeting and go over any appointments, changes, or other issues with anyone who is involved with your parents' care. If you have a visiting nurse, try to include him in your meeting or take detailed notes so he's up to date at his next visit.
Define each person's duties and roles. This will avoid duplication and save time.
Make a list each day and prioritize the items. Get in the habit of jotting down things you need to have, do, or learn so they don't get forgotten if you have a hectic day.
Don't put things off. Procrastinating often makes a chore harder and more complicated, so do the little things as they come up.
Don't plan on perfection. As your caregiving load increases, you may need to ease off on other things, so don't lose sleep over dust bunnies.
Pay attention. Live in the moment and don't worry about the multitude of other chores that may be hanging over your head.
Avoid repetition. Get in the habit of putting things away immediately so you don't have to touch them twice. Instead of dropping that receipt on the counter file it or shred it. Declutter so you spend less time looking for things and organize your home and caregiving routine.
Don't worry about detours. A big part of caregiving is meeting the ever changing circumstances, from a fall in the tub to a trip to the emergency room. If your plans get smashed let it go, because tomorrow will be another day!