Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for a number of reasons. Far from the “Dear Diary” days of our adolescence, it’s so much more than simply a way to safely express our secrets and dreams. Journaling is a fantastic way to ease anxiety, for example. It allows for creative expression through writing, drawing, even just doodling to inspire ideas. But perhaps writing a daily journal is most advantageous as a tool for improving dementia care in the home.
Dementia and its evolving stages can be extremely difficult for family caregivers to navigate. It may feel as though just when you’ve perfected an approach to help with one difficult situation, another one develops in its place. Journaling makes it easy for you to track:
- The time of day a difficult situation occurs
- The activities and setting surrounding that difficulty
- What worked (and what did not)
- Any possible triggers, such as fatigue, pain or discomfort, hunger, etc.
- And much more
It may seem intimidating to think about adding daily documentations to your already crammed day. Nevertheless, keeping it simple is equally as beneficial as extended, drawn-out information. Stick with the fundamentals, including information such as:
- Everyday signs and symptoms. Is the senior confused? Agitated? Calm? Wandering about? Combative? Writing it down each day helps you identify a pattern, if the challenges are getting more serious, and what the main cause could be.
- What was occurring at the time? Is the senior growing irritated just before lunch every day? At night time? Whenever a visitor drops by? These details can help you devise a strategy to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch should be served an hour earlier, or a relaxing bedtime routine may need to be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what kinds of foods is the senior consuming? Is she or he drinking enough to remain hydrated? If food portion sizes are too large for the senior to eat at one sitting, would it help to serve six smaller meals throughout the day in place of three larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet a problem, it’s likely that it will be at some point. Adhering to a regular routine of going to the restroom can help, and tracking incontinence issues makes it easier to establish the best schedule.
- Safety issues. Observe any mishaps that occur so that you can prevent an accident. Since the goal is always to encourage independence along with safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The records you keep will help guide you in knowing when it is time for you to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of prescription drugs. Watch out for symptom changes as meds are given to see if any possible side effects are being experienced. Having notes to share with the doctor about what you’re observing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Healthcare provider’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your journal handy for noting instructions and next steps.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s experts in companion care in Kansas City and nearby areas are happy to assist with maintaining a journal to record these data and more. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 to request your complimentary in-home assessment to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love.