Caring for a loved one living with dementia is a fluid, ever-evolving undertaking. One day may be calm and peaceful, with your loved one enjoying activities, eating healthy meals, and sharing laughter with you; while the next day might be fraught with agitation, anxiety, and sullenness. What will today bring?
Identifying how to best manage the challenging behaviors and to ensure life is as enjoyable and comfortable as it can be for an individual living with dementia could be made easier through a simple tool: journaling. Here’s how you can implement it in your day-to-day caregiving routine, and how to utilize your journal to enhance quality of life for your senior loved one:
- Track symptoms and caregiving needs every day. Your notes don’t have to be extensive, but write down any challenges that occur, including time of day and what might have ignited the challenges. Also include activities the individual was able to manage independently, together with those that were difficult. At the conclusion of every week, look back over the behaviors to figure out if a pattern can be noticed – such as greater agitation before meals or bedtime.
- Track eating habits. Observe 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 as well as what times during the day, etc. Don’t forget to record beverages, to ensure the senior is taking in adequate levels of water to stay hydrated. In examining your notes, you may find that six smaller meals through the span of the day are better for your family member than three larger ones, for instance.
- Track safety considerations. Maintaining safety is a leading priority in dementia care, with an array 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 hazardous items or placing them in out-of-reach locations is extremely important, and maintaining 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 good idea to bring your journal with you to your loved one’s medical appointments, and bring any concerns documented to his / her attention. This enables you to be fully prepared in advance of appointments with concerns you need to get addressed, taking advantage of the short time available to consult with physicians.
Call (404) 228-0103 to connect with the highly trained and knowledgeable dementia care experts at Atlanta Home Care Partners, the top providers of home care in Dunwoody and the surrounding area, to get more tips as well as for specialized in-home care that improves safety while maximizing independence, purpose, and meaning – making every day the best it can be for a person living with dementia.