Being a dementia caregiver for a senior loved one is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day can be calm and peaceful, with your family member enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the following day can be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. Just what will today bring?
Figuring out how to best handle the challenging behaviors and to ensure life is as satisfying and comfortable as possible for an individual with dementia could be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here is an easy method to implement it in your daily caregiving routine, as well as how to make use of your journal to improve quality of life for your senior loved one:
- Monitor symptoms and caregiving needs every single day. Your notes do not have to be extensive, but write down any challenges experienced, such as time of day and what could have initiated the difficulties. Also include activities the individual was able to accomplish independently, along with those that were challenging. At the conclusion of each week, review the behaviors to determine if a pattern can be noticed –for example increased agitation before meals or bedtime.
- Track eating habits. Take note of which foods are most popular with your loved one, which are least difficult for him or her to self-feed, how many meals/snacks tend to be eaten and also at what times throughout the day, etc. Don’t forget to include beverages, to ensure the senior is taking in sufficient amounts of water to remain hydrated. In reviewing your notes, you may find that six smaller sized meals throughout the span of the day are better for your family member than three larger ones, for instance.
- Track safety considerations. Maintaining safety is a high consideration in dementia care, with a number of dangers that could derive from wandering, dizziness/balance problems, hallucinations, and misunderstanding what common items are used for, in particular thinking a household cleaner could actually be a sports drink. Securing dangerous items or putting them in out-of-reach places is extremely important, and keeping a summary of changes made to the home environment for safety’s sake can be very helpful to notify other friends and family to potential risks.
It’s also a good idea to take your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to his / her attention. This allows you to be thoroughly prepared in advance of appointments with concerns you need to get answered, capitalizing on the limited time available to consult with doctors.
Contact our highly skilled and experienced agency in at home care in Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas depend on for specialized in-home care that improves safety while maximizing purpose, independence, and meaning – making each day the best it can be for a person with dementia. Call us at 757-640-0557 to learn more.