A lot of us are writing down notes all the time: grocery lists, to-do reminders, appointments, meetings, events…the list goes on and on. If you are a family caregiver, you have even more reasons for writing, as you manage another person’s life in addition to your own.
Journaling is an excellent way to keep everything together in one single concise location. Yet we recommend taking it one step further by making use of two journals for two distinct purposes to allow you to be a better caregiver.
A Journal for Organizing
This kind of journal is a great tool for keeping everything relevant to a senior family member’s health and wellness together. Include:
- Any condition changes
- Information about any troubling symptoms and what could be impacting them (for example, Dad has been feeling fatigued the past few days; it seems worse on the days that he skips a mid-morning snack)
- A list of any questions you need to remember to ask the doctor (along with their recommendations and answers)
- Prescriptions being taken and any potential side effects the older adult may be dealing with
- Contact info for the pharmacy, health care professionals, etc.
Bring the journal with you to each medical appointment so you always have the information you need close at hand.
The Venting Journal
Looking after your mental health is paramount to being a better caregiver for someone you love. A private journal just for venting your feelings and thoughts can be very beneficial, as studies have shown that documenting our experiences decreases our risk for depression. This journal is exclusively for your eyes only. There’s no right or wrong strategy to how or what you write, however these suggestions might help:
- Do not censor your thoughts or concern yourself with proper grammar – just let your thoughts flow.
- Abstain from any self-judgment; the objective is simply to empty the contents of your mind.
- Include drawings or doodles if you would like.
- Write as often as you need, but only examine what you have written after a period of time has passed, enabling you the opportunity to gain some emotional distance from your thoughts.
- Not sure where to start? These prompts might help.
There are several different techniques to keeping journals; select what works best for you!
- Traditional pen-and-paper notes
- Computerized documents
- Specialized caregiving apps, for example,:
- Balance – Specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers, find prompts to write down common symptoms with simple yes/no answers to generate a shareable log.
- CareZone – This free app is an easy medication management tool, but also includes a journaling section.
Home Sweet Home In-Home Care provides elder care in Kalamazoo, MI and the surrounding Michigan communities. Our knowledgeable care team is available to offer regular respite care services to allow you as much time as you need to spend in journal writing and any other activities you enjoy that help restore and refresh you. Contact us at (866) 229-2505 for more information.