Caring for a member of the family with dementia is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day can be calm and peaceful, with your loved one enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the following day can be filled with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. Exactly what will today bring?
Identifying how to best manage the difficult behaviors as well as ensure life is as enjoyable and comfortable as possible for a senior with dementia could be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s a way to implement it in your day-to-day caregiving routine, as well as how to utilize your journal to increase quality of life for your loved one:
- Track symptoms and care needs each day. Your notes don’t need to be lengthy, but write down any challenges that occur, particularly time of day and what might have sparked the challenges. Also include activities your senior loved one managed to accomplish independently, in addition to those that were difficult. At the end of every week, review the behaviors to figure out if a pattern can be noticed – such as greater agitation before meals or bedtime.
- Track eating habits. Note which foods are most attractive to your senior loved one, which are easiest for him or her to self-feed, exactly how many meals/snacks are being eaten and at what times during the day, etc. Make sure to include beverages, to guarantee the older adult is taking in satisfactory levels of water to stay hydrated. In looking at your notes, you may find that six smaller sized meals through the course of the day are better for your loved one than three larger ones, for example.
- Track safety concerns. Maintaining safety is a high consideration in dementia care, with an array of dangers which can result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, in particular thinking a household cleaner could possibly be a sports drink. Locking away hazardous items or putting them in out-of-reach locations is essential, and keeping a summary of changes made to the home environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to alert other family members to potential risks.
It is also a great idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns recorded to his/her attention. This enables you to be fully prepared prior to appointments with questions you need to get answered, taking advantage of the limited time available to talk to physicians.
Connect with the highly skilled and experienced Kalamazoo, MI dementia care experts at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care for more tips along with specialized in home care in St. Joseph and the surrounding area that increases safety while maximizing purpose, independence, and meaning – making every day the very best it can be for someone with dementia. For a full list of the communities we serve, visit our Locations page.