The other day a very kind soul ran some errands for me because I was too exhausted to do them myself. Upon returning with groceries for me (and a few extra treats 😊) they proudly exclaimed they had solved my problem. While I couldn’t appreciate them more for what they did and how generous they were with their time, how they recognized my need and filled it, and the incredibly kind thought behind it all, it got me thinking.
Yes, they did provide an answer to my problem. But did they solve it? In thinking further on this, I arrived at the conclusion that my problem really isn’t solved. My immediate need is filled; but my problem still exists. I’m going to need groceries again and given how exhausting grocery shopping is for me, I’m probably going to need help again. All this got me thinking – it’s to my advantage, and my caregivers, to start focusing on solutions, not answers. This will not only give me some control back in my life but also, hopefully reduce some of my reliance on my caregivers.
So, what am I really talking about here? Answer… Solution.. They seem like the same thing. What’s the deal?
An answer is an action in reaction to something, a need, a request, a situation. It means, in short, done for now…
A solution is a means of solving a problem. Simply done!
So, let’s put a little dose of reality into this situation. How can we make this strategy really work for us? And when can it work for us?
The good news is that thankfully there are many solutions available to us, with the help of modern technology and a little creative thinking! Here’s a few quick examples:
Groceries: I find this task extremely exhausting (all the walking, picking up, bending over, loading bags into my car, bringing them into the house, etc.…). I can’t consistently perform this task for myself.
The answer to this problem is to continue to have my caregivers shop for me when I can’t.
The solution – well, that’s the exciting part! There are so many these days. There is the Amazon Prime Pantry, my local grocery store drive-up service and there even a good handful of stores that offer delivery services right to the door! Some even offer meal delivery services! An alternate solution if these options are not available is to create a master grocery list, make dozens of copies of it, and then just circle what you need for the week. This saves you or your caregiver from writing brands, sizes, and items down again and again. After all, most of us do tend to get the same items, same brands, over and over.
The complete solution – Learning new applications isn’t always the easiest, or even if the site is easy to use, I need to find the energy (and get past the brain fog) to learn how to use it. Asking my caregivers to help me select the best grocer for my needs, show me how to use their system, and walk me through my first order can create a one and done situation. Hopefully at that point, I will be able to take this task back over myself, at least to a larger degree.
Medical Providers: Finding and filling out all the release forms from various providers can be draining. At times so much that, and given how hard it is to find medical support (or even a doctor aware of what Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is!), I have questioned whether the appointment will even be worth all the work!
The answer oftentimes is that one of my caregivers helps me find the appropriate medical provider for my current issue and then we start from scratch going to my main current providers’ websites, printing the release forms, filling them out again and sending them to the new provider.
The solution – We could take some time to create a document that has links to all the release forms.
The complete solution – Given the ongoing need for this, plotting out time with my caregiver to print multiple release forms for each key provider and filling one in and making copies of each, leaving just the new provider’s name blank to fill in will save us from “reinventing the wheel” for every new appointment. When the next such need comes, then we just have to pop in one name in each already-completed form and presto - off they go! (With many forms being online this may not always work, but there’s still many “paper” providers out there).
Sorting Mail/Paying Bills: I tend to get overwhelmed and anxious when I see my mail and bills piling up. Sometimes though I’m just too exhausted to go through them when they arrive.
The answer – I stay anxious and overwhelmed until the day comes that I have the energy to sort through it all and toss, pay, or file the information.
The solution – Put all of the mail out of immediate sight (but not so far that I forget them) but far enough so that I’m not constantly seeing the pile and watching it grow day after day. And when I’m feeling up to it, then I will work through the pile.
The complete solution: Consider setting up auto-pay for monthly bills. This greatly reduces the volume of mail to sort through and bills for to manually pay!
Even just thinking through these three examples has gotten me to thinking of where else I can simplify and streamline my life. Where can I self-manage my life a bit more while at the same time reducing my stress level and the overall workload for me and my caregiver, all while making self-care and rest a continuing priority? It’s sort of become a game now – what can be done simpler, easier, or not at all?
Please feel free to share your tried and proven ideas! The more robust we can make this list, the better for all of us. Why reinvent the wheel if someone already has great strategies in place that we can all benefit from!