Schizophrenia Caregiving: Tips to Organize Paperwork

How keeping a personal health record can help you and your loved one feel more in control when living with schizophrenia.

Medical files

Many people with schizophrenia need help from a caregiver or care-partner—a loved one who helps them navigate treatment and the practical aspects of living with the condition day to day.

Being a caregiver for someone with schizophrenia can be challenging. At times, it can be overwhelming. You want to do everything you can to feel more in control, minimize stress, and provide the best care possible to your loved one. One strategy that can help—staying organized with your loved one’s medical paperwork.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that requires lifelong treatment. People with schizophrenia experience psychotic symptoms—delusions and hallucinations—which disrupt their ability to interpret reality. Schizophrenia is also associated with social withdrawal, loss of motivation, and disorganized patterns of thought, speech, and behavior. Treatment focuses on addressing these symptoms through medications, therapy, and social support.

The benefits of staying organized

Anyone managing an ongoing medical condition will accumulate a lot of paperwork. Keeping this paperwork organized can be useful for a number of reasons. It can help keep track of what treatments a person has used in the past. It means important information will be easier to access if you need to answer a question for an insurance provider or healthcare provider’s office. If your loved one is seeing a new healthcare provider, it can quickly bring them up to speed. It can also help you be better prepared in case of an emergency.

Personal health records

A personal health record (PHR) is basically what it sounds like—a single file containing all your loved one’s medical information. It is different than a medical record maintained by a healthcare provider, as it is compiled by you and your loved one, and it contains a broader range of documents.

Here’s a snapshot of what a PHR should include:

  • Documents related to the diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Copies of all prescriptions for schizophrenia medications, past and present
  • General medical records (immunizations, wellness visits, hospitalizations, allergies, other health conditions)
  • Notes on family medical history, including mental health history
  • Bills and receipts
  • Insurance paperwork
  • A day-to-day log of symptoms
  • Notes on medications, including side effects
  • Contact information for all healthcare providers
  • Your own notes and summaries

Finding what you need

There is no best way to organize this information—you may prefer hard copies of the documents, or electronic versions. What matters most is that the system is easy for you to maintain and that the information you need is easy to access. Tracking down this information can take some work, but there are a few strategies that can help you get started:

  • Begin with the documents you already have.
  • Make a list of the documents that you need.
  • Many documents will be available online—for example, through patient portals or your pharmacy’s website. Your providers can explain how to access this information.
  • Don’t try to compile an entire PHR in a single day (or even a week). Instead, divide it up into smaller tasks, such as organizing all information from a specific period of time or gathering a specific type of document (prescriptions, receipts, paperwork for other medical conditions).
  • Store your PHR in a secure place and keep a backup copy.

It’s important to keep your loved one with schizophrenia involved in the process. This can help a loved one feel a greater sense of control and independence—something many people with schizophrenia struggle with. Transparency is also important, as schizophrenia is often associated with paranoid thoughts and ideas, and someone keeping a file with information about them may be upsetting. Be open and honest about the process and how a PHR can help with treatment and managing schizophrenia.

Article sources open article sources

Mayo Clinic. "Schizophrenia."
National Institute of Mental Health. "Schizophrenia."
Venus Sanchez. "The Benefits of Organizing Your Medical Records (Today, Not Tomorrow)." HealthiNation from GoodRx. May 3, 2021.
University of Minnesota: Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. "Create a Personal Health Record."
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Personal Health Records: What Health Care Providers Need to Know."
Dhruv Sarwal and Vikas Gupta. "Personal Health Record." StatPearls. May 4, 2021.
Amy Thompson. "3 Steps to Building a Personal Medical Record." Cancer.Net. December 20, 2018.
Yvette Brazier. "Paranoia and schizophrenia: What you need to know." MedicalNewsToday. September 29, 2020.

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