Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for many different reasons. Far from the “Dear Diary” days of our adolescence, it’s so much more than simply a way to safely express our dreams and secrets. Writing in a journal is an excellent way to ease stress, for example. It allows for creative expression by way of doodling, writing, or drawing to inspire ideas. But perhaps it’s most beneficial as a tool for better dementia care at home.
Dementia and its evolving stages can be extremely tricky for family caregivers to navigate. It may feel as if just when you have learned a strategy to manage one difficult circumstance, another one emerges in its place. Caregiver journaling enables you to trace:
- The time a problem occurs
- The activities and environment surrounding that problem
- What helped (and what didn’t)
- Any potential triggers, including fatigue, pain or discomfort, hunger, etc.
- And a lot more
It might appear daunting to imagine adding regular documentations to your already overflowing day. However, keeping it simple is equally as effective as lengthy, drawn-out information. Stick to the basics, including information such as:
- Daily signs and symptoms. Is the individual disoriented? Irritated? Calm? Wandering about? Combative? Writing it down every day enables you to determine if there’s a pattern, if the challenges are getting worse, and what the main cause could be.
- What was happening at the time? Is the person in your care growing upset just before lunchtime each day? At night time? Whenever a guest drops by? This info will help you develop a plan to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch needs to be served an hour earlier, or a soothing nighttime routine could be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what types of foods is the individual consuming? Are they drinking enough to stay hydrated? If portion sizes are too large to eat at one sitting, would it help to provide 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet a concern, it’s likely that it will be at some point. Maintaining a regular schedule of using the bathroom often helps, and keeping track of incontinence issues makes it easier to establish the best timeframe.
- Safety issues. Observe any mishaps that occur in order to avoid an accident. Since the goal is always 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’s time for you to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of prescription drugs. Watch for symptom changes as meds are administered to see if any possible side effects are being experienced. Having records to share with the physician about what you’re witnessing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Physician’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your journal handy for documenting instructions and next steps.
At Abby Senior Care, a provider of Denver elderly home care, our professional dementia care team is happy to offer assistance with maintaining a journal to track this info and more. Reach out to us at 303-699-8840 to request your no-cost in-home assessment to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love. Visit our Service Area page to see a list of all of the communities where we provide our award-winning home care services.