Being a caregiver can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but caring for others requires caring for yourself. Sometimes, being well-prepared is the highest form of self-care.
Having a proper caretaker toolkit helps you take care of your charges and their needs. Include these essential items in your kit to feel prepared to handle any caregiving situation.
Emergencies may require a dependable light source to help you and your charge see. Pack a quality flashlight in your caregiver toolkit to brighten your surroundings and make it easy to identify obstacles.
Outside of emergencies, flashlights make it easy to find medication dropped under the bed or dresser and light up tripping hazards. If you like to read while your charge sleeps, some lights have red-light settings that make it easy to read in low- or no-light settings without disturbing others.
A fully charged smartphone can turn into a literal lifesaver. Make sure you have your phone and charger as part of your kit.
Keep a contact list or address book of important numbers with you, or store them on your phone. If the person you’re taking care of changes healthcare providers or sees a new provider, update numbers, so you always have the right one.
Do you accompany your charge to appointments or social outings? If so, have a planner specifically for caretaking. While you can use the calendar or planner on your phone, having a physical planner helps you separate your personal life from caretaker life. A proper caretaker-life balance can keep you from experiencing burnout and help you be a better caretaker.
Having a vitals kit in your caregiver toolkit helps you take blood pressure and temperature and listen to the heart and lungs. Sometimes, taking vitals is helpful, and other times it’s essential.
Kits should include a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, pulse oximeter, and stethoscope. If the person you care for has diabetes, add a glucose monitoring system to your vitals kit. In case your kit’s mercury thermometer breaks and leaks, having a mercury spill kit helps you clean up the mess without worry.
Write all the medications the person you’re caring for takes, including supplements and vitamins. Health care professionals may need this information.
If your charge has several prescriptions, print out several copies of the medication list, keeping one with you, another in your car, and a third in your charge’s residence. Pill organizers make it easy to keep up with medication dosages, and medication schedules help you know when it’s time to give the person you’re caring for their prescription.
First Aid Kit
While every home needs a first aid kit, they’re especially vital in homes where caretakers work. Kits should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, gauze, eyewash, and burn cream, just to name a few. Know where the first aid kit is, and check it occasionally to see if it needs to be restocked.
Rinse-Free Personal Care Items
Even if the person you’re caring for can bathe, there may be times when they don’t feel up to the physical act of showering or bathing. Pack rinse-free personal care items like leave-in conditioner, rinse-free body wash, and dry shampoo. That way, your charge doesn’t have to get into the shower or bathtub to feel their best. Even if your charge doesn’t use the personal care items, you may do so yourself for overnight stays if you don’t have all the personal hygiene products you usually use.
Sanitizing and Protective Equipment
Keep living spaces free of germs and bacteria by packing sanitizing and personal protective equipment in your toolkit. Travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer don’t take up a lot of space, so pair them with small bottles of hand lotion, so your hands don’t dry out from wiping or washing your hands often. If you expect to use a lot of sanitizer, consider a refillable dispenser.
A well-stocked caregiver toolkit can act as a port in various storms. Bring these items with you to have one less thing to worry about.