Caregiver Tips: Part 3 - Organizing


To ease the stress of caregiving, it helps to have a system to organize the information you receive so you can access it quickly when you need it. Develop a system that works for you. Here’s how I organized the mounds of paperwork:

A big 3-ring binder that I carried to medical visits included:

  • Doctors’ and nurses’ contact information (I put their business cards in a plastic binder with slots made for 20 cards per page.)
  • Questions to ask doctors (with room for their answers)
  • List of current medications and supplements (including chemo) with dosage and dates medications were started and stopped
  • List of contraindications to current medications
  • Medical history
  • Treatment summary—date, doctor/facility, procedure/surgery, diagnosis, medication prescribed and dosage (You may download my sample spreadsheet.)
  • Procedure instructions for CT scan, MRI, PET scan, etc.
  • Treatment options for the future
  • A list of providers I had researched that were in our insurance network just in case we needed them:
    •  Durable Medical Equipment (oxygen, walker, wheelchair, etc.)
    •  Skilled Nursing
    •  Hospice
  • Contact information for people who offered to help and what they offered to help with (You may download my sample spreadsheet.)
  • Account numbers and information to pay bills online if you get stuck out of town at a hospital
  • Journal (loose notebook paper) to log health problems, symptoms, improvements, weight, oxygen, heart rate, blood pressure, and anything else worth noting.

For out-of-town medical visits, a folder in a backpack that I carried included:

  • Hotel information in the nearby area of treatment
  • Maps of the city
  • Maps of the facility where the treatment was received
  • Restaurant information

A filing cabinet at home included separate folders with paperwork filed chronologically within each folder:

  • Lab results
  • Pathology reports
  • Patient reports from doctors
  • Radiology reports and CDs
  • Medication information, filed alphabetically (instructions and list of possible side effects)
  • Pamphlets on the treatment received, filed alphabetically
  • Nutritionist’s information
  • Explanation of Benefits (EOBs)
  • Medical appointment schedules (I occasionally had to refer back to see what test/appointment occurred when.)