At some point in our lives we may be tasked with caring for someone. This might be your own child, an ageing parent, a family member with a disability, or a friend with a temporary impairment such as a broken leg. We’ve all been there, and we will all continue to be there.
Being a caregiver can be rewarding because it’s in our nature to help one another. Oftentimes, the ones who we end up caring for, are very important to us. But let’s be honest - it can also be exhausting. “It’s not just about taking care of them when they’re ill” says Matt Wren, Director of Operations for TELUS Health. “It’s about all the other things”, and Matt should know. As a father to five, a fulltime employee and caregiver to two ageing parents, he is one of 8.1 million Canadians considered to be an unpaid caregiver1. Appointments, trips to the pharmacy, coordinating and updating other family members can eat up a lot of time. And the more we have on our plate, the more those “other things” can add up.
Is time really always on our side?
For the most part, our lives are defined by the clock: it determines our schedules, when we eat, when we sleep, when we exercise and even when we relax. Do you feel that time goes by faster the older we get? You’re not alone. “Almost every human knows intuitively that time is relative - because it seems to pass much faster the older we get.”2 So as we age, and as our caregiving responsibilities increase, how do we fit more of our to-dos into the same hours of the day?
We need help, tools, resources and ways to buy back some of that time so we can focus more on the joyful aspects of being a caregiver.
Tasks take time
The couch cuddles with your kids or the thank you hug from your mom aren’t the tasks you can outsource - nor are they the tasks you want to outsource. “Kids become sweet when they’re sick. You get a good cuddle from your kids when you feel like you comfort them. You’re just there. You feel like you’re helping them” says Matt.
Spending quality time with those you're caring for, and enjoying those moments together is what brings joy to caregiving. However, it’s typically the administrative work that creates the challenge. It's making and attending appointments, coordinating schedules, and managing prescriptions. All of these tasks take time. Thankfully, there are many tools we can all use to help alleviate some of those more administrative tasks. “If we can simplify one thing, like an additional trip to the pharmacy, it makes a difference” shares Matt as he reflects on the tools he uses to keep everything in order. From shared mobile phone calendars to the TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy App, caregivers can get help, so they can spend more time giving actual care.
The key is independence
Whether you’re encouraging independence in your children, or helping an older family member sustain their independence, encouraging others to keep or hone this skill is a big part of caregiving. Matt’s dad has the ability to continue to care for himself; however, he was having trouble remembering if he’d taken his daily medication. “When I put my dad on MedPack - he only has a couple meds - but now he easily knows if he took his medication or not. It’s just one less thing we have to talk to him about.” says Matt.
MedPack pouches helped Matt's dad retain some independence, and helped Matt gain peace of mind. The pouches, packaged and shipped by TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacists, are clearly labelled with instructions that take the guesswork out of dosing. Matt now trusts that his dad takes his medication when needed.
TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacists can package and deliver medication and supplements in Med Pack pouches that are clearly labelled with instructions to take the guesswork out of dosing. So now Matt can trust that his dad is taking his medication when needed, he’s provided a tool for his dad to retain his independence, and his dad feels good that he can self-serve and reach out for additional help to his pharmacist if needed.
Collaboration is essential
As a caregiver, it’s important to know you’re not alone. “I’m not the sole caregiver for my parents. My brother and my sister help as well. We’re all trying to make sure we’re staying on the same page” says Matt.
Even as parents, there is usually a small network of people that support you with the care of your child. The TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy App allows the private sharing of a user’s profile to a small, trusted network. So in the case of Matt, his parents can choose to share their profile with his siblings so they’re all on the same page and have the same knowledge about side effects, refills, new prescriptions and more. “Now, we all don’t all have to attend appointments. We can all get the drug information, pull up her profile and show the doctor what she’s taking. We can go in and add helper notes and put in a nickname so my parents can understand it” says Matt.
Caregivers, you are appreciated
Although caregiving can be a full-time role, it shouldn’t take up your full time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the creation and uptake of digital tools that can support caregivers day-to-day, such as:
- Shared family calendars
- Virtual doctors visit apps such as TELUS Health MyCare
- Virtual pharmacy apps such as TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy
- Symptom trackers
- Caregiver support groups
Learning something new can be a challenge, but leveraging a tool to help manage your time can be such a relief. The TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy app gives you the ability to share information, and can save you the time typically spent waiting for your family’s prescriptions. Download it today and discover seamless prescription refills, direct prescription faxing from physicians (that means no easy-to-misplace paper slips), door-to-door delivery, and more.
Enjoy more of the valuable time spent with those you care for, and offload some of the other tasks. Discover how you can help put more time on your side by simplifying your life.
Sinha, M. (2013). Portrait of caregiver, 2012: Statistics Canada. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89f0115x/89f0115x2013001-eng.pdf
Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D. (2020). Why Time Goes By Faster As We Age: Psychology Today. Retrived from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/think-well/202011/why-time-goes-faster-we-age