A lot of us are writing down notes all the time: shopping lists, appointments, meetings, to-do reminders, events…the list goes on and on. If you are a family caregiver, you’ve got additional reasons for writing, as you manage another person’s life along with your own.
Journaling for family caregivers is an ideal way to keep everything together in one single concise location. Yet we advise taking it one step further by utilizing two journals for two distinct purposes that are equally important to your role as caregiver.
A Journal for Organizing
This particular journal is a good tool for keeping all of the details related to a senior loved one’s health and wellbeing in one place. Information to include:
- Any condition changes
- Information regarding any troubling symptoms and what may be influencing them (i.e., Mom has been feeling fatigued the past few days; it seems worse on the days that she skips a mid-morning snack.)
- A list of any questions you want to remember to ask the physician (along with their answers and recommendations)
- Prescriptions being taken and any possible side effects the individual may be dealing with
- Contact info for doctors’ offices, the pharmacy, etc.
Bring the journal with you to every medical appointment so that you always have the information you will need at your fingertips.
The Venting Journal
Looking after your mental health is vital to providing the best care for a loved one. A private journal exclusively for venting your feelings and thoughts can be very helpful, as research shows that documenting our experiences decreases our risk for depression. This journal is solely for your eyes only. There is no right or wrong strategy to what or how you write, but these guidelines can help:
- Don’t censor your thoughts or be concerned with proper grammar – just let your thoughts flow.
- Refrain from any self-judgment; the aim is just to empty the contents of your mind.
- Include doodles or drawings if you would like.
- Write as often as you would like, but only review what you’ve written after a period of time has passed, allowing you the opportunity to gain some emotional distance from your thoughts.
- Not sure where to start? These prompts can help.
Journaling for family caregivers can take a number of forms. There are different techniques to keeping journals; choose what is most effective for you!
- Traditional pen-and-paper notes
- Computerized documents
- Specialized caregiving apps, such as:
- Balance – Specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers, find prompts to record common symptoms with simple yes/no answers to create a shareable log.
- CareZone – This free app is a great medication management tool that also includes a journaling section.
JFS Care’s compassionate caregivers are here to offer regular respite care services to allow you as much time as you need to invest in journal writing and any other activities you enjoy that help restore and refresh you. Call us at (213) 383-2273 to learn more about our elderly home care services in Los Angeles. Visit our service area page to see all of the communities where we provide care.