April 14, 2020 by
Providing dementia care is a fluid, ever-evolving process. One day can be calm and peaceful, with your loved one enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the next day may be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. What will today bring?
Determining how to best manage the difficult behaviors and to ensure life is as pleasant and comfortable as it can be for someone with dementia can be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s how you can implement it in your daily caregiving routine, and how to utilize your journal to improve quality of life for your loved one:
- Track symptoms and care needs each day. Your notes don’t need to be lengthy, but jot down any difficulties experienced, including time of day and what could have triggered the problems. Also include tasks the person was able to accomplish independently, along with those that were challenging. At the end of each week, look back over the behaviors to see if a pattern can be noticed – such as increased agitation before meals or bedtime.
- Track eating habits. Note which foods are most appealing to your loved one, which are easiest for him or her to self-feed, how many meals/snacks are being consumed and at what times during the day, etc. Be sure to include beverages, to ensure the senior is taking in sufficient amounts of water to stay hydrated. In reviewing your notes, you may find that six smaller meals throughout the course of the day are better for your loved one than three larger ones, for instance.
- Track safety concerns. Maintaining safety is a top priority in dementia care, with a wide range of dangers that can result from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, such as thinking a household cleaner may actually be a sports drink. Locking away dangerous items or placing them in out-of-reach locations is crucial, and keeping a list of changes made to the home environment for safety’s sake can be extremely helpful to alert other family members to potential risks.
It’s also a great idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to his or her attention. This allows you to be fully prepared in advance of appointments with questions you want to get answered, making the most of the limited time available to talk with doctors.
Contact At Home Independent Living’s highly skilled and experienced Camillus home care experts for more tips and for specialized in-home care that enhances safety while maximizing independence, purpose, and meaning – making each day the best it can be for someone with dementia.