Being a caregiver for a senior living with dementia is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day may be calm and peaceful, with your senior loved one taking pleasure in activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the following day may be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. Exactly what will today bring?
Determining how to best manage the difficult behaviors and also to ensure life is as satisfying and comfortable as it can be for a loved one living with dementia can be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s the best way to implement it in your everyday caregiving routine, as well as how to make use of your journal to enhance quality of life for your loved one:
Track symptoms and care needs every single day. Your notes do not need to be extensive, but jot down any issues that occur, including time of day and what might have sparked the challenges. Additionally, include activities the senior was able to execute independently, along with those that were difficult. At the conclusion of each week, look back over the behaviors to see if a pattern can be noticed – such as greater agitation before meals or bedtime.
Track eating habits. Observe which foods are the most appealing to the senior, which are least difficult for him or her to self-feed, how many meals/snacks are being consumed and at what times throughout the day, etc. Don't forget to include beverages, to guarantee the older adult is taking in adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated. In going over your notes, you may find that five or six small meals throughout the course of the day are better for your family member than three larger ones, for instance.
Track safety issues. Maintaining safety is a leading priority in dementia care, with an array of dangers that could result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, such as thinking a household cleaner might actually be a sports drink. Securing hazardous items or positioning them in out-of-reach locations is a must, and keeping a list of changes made to the home environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to notify other members of the family about potential risks.
Additionally, it is a great idea to take your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns recorded to the doctor’s attention. This permits you to be completely prepared in advance of appointments with questions you want to get answered, making the most of the short time available to talk to doctors.