In my workshops, I talk a lot about how journaling can be a beneficial tool for caregivers. As a caregiver for a loved one with dementia, you must make many adjustments in your life. These can include changes in sleep patterns, changes in nutrition, and changes in hydration or even medication. This is stressful and can become very confusing.
At these times, you need grounding; you need perspective; you need organization, and this is why it is important to keep journal, a record of your day. You do not have to dedicate a large amount of time to journaling each day, and it does not have to be a literary masterpiece. Just keep notes, use your computer, or even a hand voice recorder. Just be sure to know where this documentation is stored, so you can return to it when you need it.
Below are some of the reasons journaling is beneficial:
Journaling is therapeutic. It can be emotionally healing to see just how you are doing or to have notes about the things you may need to work on.
It can reduce your stress as you reflect on the day’s events. Get it out and get it down on paper so you don’t roll it around in your head all night long.
It can help you identify the good times and the bad timesof the day, which can help you adjust accordingly for activities and outings.
It can help you tell the story to your physician. How often do we go into the doctor’s office and forget many of those important things we wanted to say?
It can be validation that you made it through another day, providing you with relief and self-esteem.
It can enable you to look back to better understand those moments when you were not thinking clearly due to stress and confusion.
It will help you identify patterns: changes in sleeping, eating, bathroom habits, and other behaviors.
Your task will become more manageable when you can place events in the context of a 24-hour day. And journaling may even help you identify the tasks that you are not good at. When your journal helps you identify something that did not work, you can let it go, move forward, and attempt to do it differently tomorrow. Or, you can seek help, which is something caregivers often forget to do.
Happily, the opposite is true as well. Your journal will also show you just how really good you are as a caregiver, and how much you have improved.
Journaling is not just one more task that you don’t have time for during your busy day. Believe me: five minutes of journaling can help you find ways to save hours. Just try it. I believe you will find it can make caring for your loved one more efficient and less stressful.
Debbie Selsavage is a certified trainer in the Positive Approach to Care, a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and President of the Alzheimer’s Family Organization. Her company, Coping with Dementia LLC, is dedicated to making life better for individuals and caregivers living with dementia.
Until next time remember: “We all deserve the best”
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