Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for a variety of reasons. Hardly the “Dear Diary” days of our adolescence, it’s so much more than simply a way to safely share our secrets and dreams. Writing in a journal is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety, for instance. It allows for creative expression through writing, drawing, even just doodling to inspire ideas. But perhaps it is most beneficial as a tool for better dementia care in the home.
Dementia as well as its evolving phases can be very challenging for family caregivers to navigate. It might feel as though just when you’ve perfected an approach to help with one challenging situation, another emerges in its place. Keeping a caregiving journal enables you to track:
- The time a difficulty takes place
- The situations and setting surrounding that difficulty
- What helped (and what didn’t)
- Any possible triggers, including hunger, fatigue, physical pain or discomfort, etc.
- And a lot more
It may seem intimidating to think about adding daily documentations to your already overflowing day. However, keeping it simple is as beneficial as extended, drawn-out details. Stick with the basics, including information such as:
- Everyday signs and symptoms. Is the older adult disoriented? Agitated? Calm? Wandering? Combative? Jotting it down each day allows you to determine if there is a pattern, if the challenges are getting more serious, and what the primary cause might be.
- What was happening at the time? Is the senior becoming agitated prior to lunchtime each day? At bedtime? Whenever a visitor drops by? These details can help you develop a strategy to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch ought to be served an hour earlier, or a soothing nighttime routine could be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what kinds of foods is the senior eating? Is she or he drinking enough to remain hydrated? If serving sizes are too much for the senior to eat at one meal, would it help to provide six smaller meals throughout the day rather than three larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet an issue, it’s likely that it will be at some time. Adhering to a consistent routine of going to the bathroom can help, and monitoring incontinence issues makes it easier to establish the best schedule.
- Safety issues. Make note of any mishaps that take place so that you can prevent an accident. As the goal should be to promote independence in addition to safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The notes you take will help guide you in knowing when it is time for you to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of prescription drugs. Watch for symptom changes as medications are given to see if any possible unwanted effects are being experienced. Having records to share with the doctor about what you are seeing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Doctor’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your caregiving journal handy for documenting instructions and next steps.
Morning Glory Home Care, a provider of award-winning home care in O’Fallon, IL and nearby areas, is happy to assist with keeping a journal to record these data and more. Contact us at 618-667-8400 to request your complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love.