Journaling is gaining popularity, for a variety of reasons. Hardly the “Dear Diary” days of our childhood, it is much more than just a means to safely express our secrets and dreams. Journaling is a fantastic way to ease tension, for example. It allows for creative expression through doodling, writing, or drawing to inspire ideas. But perhaps it is most advantageous as a resource for improved dementia care at home.
Dementia and its evolving stages can be quite difficult for family caregivers to navigate. It may feel as if just when you’ve mastered an approach to help with one challenging circumstance, another emerges in its place. Journaling allows you to track:
- The time a challenge comes about
- The activities and atmosphere surrounding that problem
- What proved helpful (and what didn’t)
- Any possible triggers, such as fatigue, pain or discomfort, hunger, etc.
- And a lot more
It might seem overwhelming to think about adding daily journaling to your already overflowing day. Nevertheless, keeping it simple is equally as effective as lengthy, drawn-out information. Stick with the essentials, including information such as:
- Everyday symptoms. Is the older adult confused? Agitated? Calm? Wandering about? Combative? Writing it down every day allows you to determine if there is a pattern, if the problems are becoming worse, and what the primary cause could be.
- What was going on at the time? Is the person for whom you are providing care becoming agitated right before lunchtime each day? At nighttime? Whenever a visitor stops by? This info will help you devise a plan to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch should be served an hour or so earlier, or a relaxing bedtime routine can be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what kinds of foods is the senior eating? Is he or she drinking enough to remain hydrated? If portion sizes are too large for the senior to manage at one meal, would it help to offer 6 smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet a problem, it is likely that it will be eventually. Sticking to a regular routine of using the restroom often helps, and tracking incontinence issues makes it easier to determine the best schedule.
- Safety concerns. Make note of any incidents that occur so that you can prevent an accident. As the goal is always to promote independence along with safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The notes you take will help direct you in knowing when it is time for you to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of medications. Watch for symptom changes as medications are administered to see if any possible negative effects are being experienced. Having notes to share with the doctor about what you are seeing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will likely be invaluable.
- Doctor’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your journal handy for documenting recommendations and next steps.
Grace Home Care is happy to assist with additional tips for journaling and much more. Contact us at 785-286-2273 to request your complementary in-home assessment to learn more about how our skilled memory care in Topeka, KS can enhance life for a senior you love.