Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for a number of reasons. Hardly the “Dear Diary” days of our adolescence, it’s so much more than simply a means to safely express our dreams and secrets. For instance, writing in a journal is a wonderful way to relieve stress. It allows for creative expression by way of writing, drawing, even just doodling to inspire ideas. But perhaps it is most beneficial as a tool for better care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Dementia and its evolving stages can be tricky for family caregivers to navigate. It can feel as if just when you have mastered a method to help overcome one difficult circumstance, another develops in its place. Journaling makes it easy for you to trace:
- The time of day a challenging behavior takes place
- The events and setting surrounding the challenging behavior
- What worked (and what did not)
- Any potential causes, including hunger, fatigue, physical pain or discomfort, etc.
- And more
It might seem daunting to think about adding daily journaling for a loved one with Alzheimer’s to your already overflowing day. Nevertheless, keeping it simple can be just as effective as long, drawn-out details. Stick with the essentials, including information such as:
- Daily signs and symptoms. Is the older adult confused? Irritated? Peaceful? Wandering? Combative? Writing it down each day allows you to see if there’s a pattern, if the challenges are getting worse, and what the primary cause might be.
- What was occurring at the time? Is the senior growing irritated prior to lunch each day? At bedtime? Whenever a guest drops by? This info can help you develop a strategy to preempt the behavior. Maybe lunch ought to be served an hour or so earlier, or a relaxing nighttime routine could be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what types of foods is the individual eating? Are they drinking enough to remain hydrated? If portion sizes are too large for the senior to handle at one meal, would it help to provide six smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet an issue, it is likely that it will be eventually. Sticking to a regular routine of going to the restroom often helps, and tracking incontinence issues makes it easier to identify the best schedule.
- Safety concerns. Observe any mishaps that occur so that you can avoid an accident. As the goal is always to encourage independence along with safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The notes you take can help direct you in knowing when it is time to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of medications. Watch out for symptom changes as medications are given to see if any possible negative effects are being experienced. Having notes to share with the doctor about what you are observing and the details surrounding medications that may be involved will be invaluable.
- Physician’s orders. At medical appointments, keep your journal handy for noting instructions and next steps.
At-Home Care Company offers friendly and highly trained senior helpers in Urbandale, Iowa and the surrounding areas. Our dementia care team is happy to assist with keeping a journal to track these details and more for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Call us at 515-292-2650 to request your complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love.