Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for a variety of reasons. Far from the “Dear Diary” days of our adolescent years, it is much more than simply a method to safely express our secrets and dreams. Writing in a journal is a fantastic way to ease anxiety, for instance. It allows for creative expression by way of writing, drawing, even just doodling to inspire ideas. But perhaps it is most advantageous as a tool for better dementia care in the home.
Dementia along with its evolving phases can be quite complicated for family caregivers to navigate. It could feel as though just when you’ve learned a technique to support one challenging circumstance, another one develops in its place. Keeping a care journal allows you to track:
- The time of day a challenging circumstance takes place
- The activities and environment surrounding that problem
- What worked (and what didn’t)
- Any potential triggers, including fatigue, pain or discomfort, hunger, etc.
- And much more
It might seem overwhelming to imagine adding daily journaling to your already overflowing day. However, keeping it simple can be just as beneficial as long, drawn-out information. Stick to the fundamentals, including information such as:
- Daily signs and symptoms. Is the senior disoriented? Agitated? Calm? Wandering about? Combative? Writing it down every day allows you to determine if there is a pattern, if the challenges are getting more serious, and what the main cause might be.
- What was going on at the time? Is the senior getting irritated right before lunchtime every day? At bedtime? Whenever a guest drops by? This info will help you develop a strategy to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch needs to be served an hour or so earlier, or a relaxing 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 portion sizes are too large for the senior to eat at one meal, would it help to provide six smaller sized meals throughout the day in the place of three larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet an issue, it is likely that it will be at some time. Sticking with a consistent routine of using the bathroom can help, and monitoring incontinence issues makes it easier to determine the best schedule.
- Safety issues. Make note of any mishaps that happen so that you can avoid an accident. Because the goal is 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’s time to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of prescription drugs. Watch for symptom changes as medications are given to see if any possible negative effects are being experienced. Having notes to share with the health care provider about what you’re seeing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Physician’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your care journal handy for noting recommendations and next steps.
Inspired Home Care, award-winning providers of in home care in Barrington and nearby areas, are happy to help with keeping a journal to track these data and much more. Contact us at 847-787-7572 to request your free in-home assessment to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can enhance life for a senior you love. Visit our Locations Served page for a full list of the communities in which we offer care.