Keeping a journal is growing in popularity, for a variety of reasons. Hardly the “Dear Diary” days of our childhood, it’s so much more than simply a means to safely express our secrets and dreams. Journaling is a wonderful way to ease stress, 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 improved dementia care at home.
Dementia and its advancing stages can be very difficult for family caregivers to navigate. It might feel as if just when you’ve perfected a method to help with one difficult circumstance, another develops in its place. Journaling enables you to trace:
- The time a challenge takes place
- The events and setting surrounding that challenge
- What proved helpful (and what didn’t)
- Any possible triggers, such as fatigue, pain or discomfort, hunger, etc.
- And a lot more
It may seem overwhelming to think about adding daily documentations to your already busy schedule. However, keeping it simple is equally as useful as long, drawn-out information. Stick to the essentials, including information such as:
- Everyday signs and symptoms. Is the older adult confused? Agitated? Calm? Wandering about? Combative? Jotting it down each day helps to determine if there is a pattern, if the problems are getting worse, and what the primary cause might be.
- What was going on at the time? Is the senior becoming irritated prior to lunch each day? At bedtime? Whenever a visitor drops by? These details will help you devise a strategy to preempt the behavior. Perhaps lunch ought to be served an hour earlier, or maybe a relaxing bedtime routine should be incorporated.
- Eating habits. How much and what kinds of foods is the individual consuming? Is she or he drinking enough to stay hydrated? If food portion sizes are too large for the senior to manage at one sitting, would it help to provide 6 smaller sized meals throughout the day as opposed to 3 larger ones?
- Bathroom needs. If incontinence is not yet a concern, it’s likely that it will be at some point. Adhering to a consistent routine of using the bathroom can help, and tracking incontinence issues makes it easier to establish the best schedule.
- Safety issues. Make note of any incidents that take place so that you can avoid an accident. Because the goal should be to promote independence as well as safety, it can be a fine line to walk. The records you keep will help direct you in knowing when it is time for you to safely lock certain items away.
- The effectiveness of prescription drugs. Watch for symptom changes as meds are given to see if any possible negative effects are being experienced. Having records to share with the physician about what you are 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 documenting recommendations and next steps.
At Compassionate Nursing Services, our experts in dementia care in Oakville, MO and the surrounding areas are happy to help with maintaining a journal to track these details and more. Reach out to us at 314-432-4312 to request your no-cost in-home consultation to learn more about how our skilled dementia care can improve life for a senior you love.