Caregiver Organization – Books and Papers

June 8, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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We left off last week talking about organization. This week, I want to offer you who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia as well as caregivers some specific tools and tips for organizing your personal space and ultimately making your life easier and more manageable.

Organization is not only big business, it is important because it will save time, frustration and even money.

The June 16 issue of Time Magazine carries an article entitled, The 100 Thing Challenge (by Lisa McLaughlin). The 100 Thing Challenge is a sort of movement started by Dave Bruno, an internet entrepreneur. I am not suggesting that like Bruno, we attempt to pare our belongings down to just 100 items. THAT in and of itself would make me crazier than my clutter does. After all, as Lisa Mclaughlin asserts, “I’ve got more than 100 things in my purse.”

But here’s a challenge I can live with. 365 Days of De-cluttering. The premise is that it’s hard to get large chunks of time to do major organization and de-cluttering. The suggestion is that you take 15 minutes a day, some days you may have less and some more, but try to throw away, give away or sell one item each day for 365 days. I personally LOVE the idea and plan to join in starting today!

Caregiver Specific Organization and De-cluttering Tips:

YOUR Papers, books and bills:

  • Yes, you may have a slew of paperwork to handle for your loved one, but you can’t be helpful to someone else if your life is out of order. Take baby steps. Select a pile and get started. Adopt the motto, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  • Make a copy of your driver’s license, bank/credit cards, medical cards, Power of Attorney, passport and important papers and put them in a safe deposit box or mail the envelope to a trusted friend with do not open instructions. If possible, select someone who does not live in your town. Do the same for your loved one. That way, if disaster strikes (or if grandma loses her purse). You have access to all of the information that you need and can make calls easily. Don’t forget to copy front and back of cards so that you have numbers as well as contact information.
  • Set up a “backup” email account and email yourself a copy of all of your important computer documents, emergency phone numbers, doctor’s phone numbers, etc.. Whatever you have in your computer that would cause major drama if it got lost, you should send to yourself. It can be accessed from anywhere and will save you lots of problems if something happens to your computer.
  • Donate books that you are not going to read again. As a writer, I have an extensive selection of books. This year, I purchased a blank Journal of Books I’ve Read. I am recording the books in the journal so that I can remember the salient points and when I read the book. However, unless they are EXCEPTIONALLY good, or about something that I write about on a consistent basis then I am giving, selling or in some cases as with o-l-d textbooks, I am tossing them. THAT will free up space on my bookshelf for…well, for more books of course.
  • There are differing schools of thought on how long you should keep certain financial documents. Accounting and finance are definitely now my strong areas, so I’ll point you in the direction of the experts. discusses several different types of papers – tax documents, bills, pay stubs, and receipts to name a few and how long to keep each.It may seem overwhelming, but just take it step by step. In the end, you will be so happy that you got organized and de-cluttered your life. And you will feel so much better when you don’t have to spend 15-20 minutes or more of your already busy caregiving day looking for a misplaced item.

I’ve gotta go. Heading to my closet to see what gets donated, sold or tossed today.

  • Coming Soon:
    How to conquer the Clutter in Your Closet
    Battling Bedroom Clutter
    How to Conquer Clutter in Your Kitchen
    Organizing Your Office Space

How do you get/stay organized?

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