If you are the primary caregiver for an elderly loved one, you know how quickly you can become pressed for time—especially when you have other responsibilities. You may have a job, a spouse, children away at school, social obligations, and more to manage. Yet, Mom or Dad is depending on you to make sure they get the things they need to live a comfortable, happy life. It may seem like it would be impossible to be a full-time caregiver and still fulfill your other responsibilities, but it can be done. All you need is a little organization. To be organized, you need a senior care plan.

Creating a senior care plan isn’t as complex as it may seem. Once you know the basics, you can design one easily. Best of all, once you have a care plan in place, you don’t have to re-design it again; it is a flexible document that can be adapted as necessary according to your needs and situation on any given day.

Designing a Senior Care Plan That Works

So, how do you create an effective and adaptable senior care plan—one that will work for elderly parents even as their care needs progress? It’s simple.

1. Spend a Day in Their Shoes.

Your first order of business is to refamiliarize yourself with who your parents are. Write down a list of your loved one’s likes and dislikes. Include their interests on this list, as well as what they are currently able to do. Next, think of how they used to organize their own day before they needed full-time care. If Mom is a night owl or Dad is always up at 5:00 AM on the dot, include this information on your list.

2. Map Out Your Day.

Your schedule should be the first thing you put down on your caregiving calendar—when you have to be at work, when you come home, your kids’ activities (if you still have children at home), and any other obligations during any given week or month that cannot be rescheduled. Your schedule can be a weekly one or a monthly one, depending on which type best serves your needs.

3. Plot Out the Necessities.

When you schedule activities in your day and that of your loved one is up to you, but there are certain activities that you definitely need to include:

  • Meals
  • Personal care
  • Housework done by you and/or the people who live with you (not your elderly loved one, unless they are able to help and want to)

When scheduling activities for your loved one, think about when they are at their best during the day to do them. With this information in mind, begin to write down definite times for meals, bathing, dressing, going to bed, and getting up each day.

Though these activities will be specifically planned to meet your parents’ needs, you may want to include the whole family for a meal at least once a week.

4. Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff

Once you have the basics, be sure to carve out some time each day, even if it’s just a short period, for recreational activities your parents love—things that can be enjoyed on their own or with company, as schedules allow. However, don’t feel as though you need to fill every moment of every day with something for your loved one to do. You need downtime, and they do, too. Everyone does. A good balance of activities and rest is important to keep them happy as well as entertained.

The Importance of Flexibility

As you’re mapping out your care plan, one of the most important things to remember is that nothing is set in stone. You need to be able to roll with the punches, and not just for the unexpected things that come up. There are going to be days when Mom or Dad is bored or irritable and just not into what you’re doing. It’s at these times that being flexible works the best.