Journaling is growing in popularity, for a variety of reasons. Hardly the “Dear Diary” days of our childhood, it’s much more than simply a way to safely express our dreams and secrets. Writing in a journal is a wonderful way to alleviate anxiety, for instance. It allows for creative expression through writing, drawing, even just doodling to inspire ideas. But perhaps it is most advantageous as a resource for enhanced dementia care in the home.
Dementia and its evolving stages can be extremely difficult for family caregivers to navigate. It can feel as if just when you have learned a technique to support one challenging circumstance, another arises in its place. Keeping a senior care journal makes it easy for you to track:
- The time of day a difficulty takes place
- The events and environment surrounding that problem
- What proved helpful (and what did not)
- Any likely causes, like hunger, fatigue, physical pain or discomfort, etc.
- And a lot more
It might feel intimidating to imagine adding daily journaling to your already busy day. Nevertheless, keeping it simple is as beneficial as lengthy, drawn-out details. Stick to the basics, including information such as:
- Everyday signs and symptoms. Is the senior disoriented? Irritated? Calm? Wandering? Combative? Jotting it down each day allows you to identify if there’s a pattern, if the problems are becoming more serious, and what the root cause could be.
- What was happening at the time? Is the senior becoming irritated prior to lunch each day? At bedtime? Whenever a guest stops by? This info will help you devise a strategy to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch ought to be served an hour or so earlier, or a soothing bedtime routine could be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what types of foods is the person eating? Are they drinking enough to stay hydrated? If food portion sizes are too much for the senior to manage at one meal, would it help to offer 6 small meals throughout the day in the place of 3 larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet a problem, it is likely that it will be at some point. Adhering to a regular routine of using the bathroom can help, and tracking incontinence issues makes it easier to establish the best schedule.
- Safety considerations. Observe any mishaps that occur in order to prevent an accident. Because the goal should be to encourage independence along with safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The records you keep will help direct you in knowing when it is time 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 are witnessing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Doctor’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your journal handy for documenting recommendations and next steps.
Live Free Home Health Care’s home care specialists in Concord, NH and surrounding areas are happy to assist with maintaining a senior care journal to record these data and much more. Give us a call at 603-217-0149 to request your complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love.