Many of us are writing down notes all of the time: grocery lists, to-do reminders, appointments, meetings, events…the list goes on and on. If you are a family caregiver, you’ve got even more reasons for writing, while you manage another person’s life in addition to your own.
Journaling is an excellent way to keep everything together in one concise location. With this in mind, we advise taking it a step further and utilizing two family caregiver journals for two specific purposes which are every bit as important to your role as caregiver.
The Organization Journal
This particular journal is a perfect tool for keeping all of the details pertaining to a senior loved one’s health and wellbeing in one place. Include:
- Any condition changes
- Information regarding any troubling symptoms and what might be influencing them (for example, 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 the pharmacy, health care professionals, etc.
Bring the journal with you to each medical appointment so that you will have the important 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 expressing your thoughts and feelings can be very beneficial, as studies have shown that writing down our experiences reduces our risk for depression. This journal is exclusively for your eyes only. There’s no right or wrong strategy to how or what you jot down, however these guidelines can help:
- Do not censor your thoughts or be worried about proper grammar – just let the writing flow.
- Refrain from any self-judgment; the goal is simply to get your thoughts written down.
- Include doodles or drawings if you’d like.
- Write as often as you want, but only review what you have written after a period of time has passed, enabling you the chance to gain some emotional distance from your thoughts.
- Not sure where to start? These prompts might help.
There are a number of different methods to keeping family caregiver journals; choose what works best for you!
- Traditional pen-and-paper notes
- Computerized documents
- Specialized caregiving apps, such as:
- Balance – Specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers, find prompts to write down common symptoms with simple yes/no answers to create a shareable log.
- CareZone – This free app is an easy medication management tool, but also includes a journaling section.
CareWorks Health Services, one of the top caregiver agencies in Orange County, has a compassionate care team that is here to help. We offer regular respite care services to allow you as much time as you need to spend in journal writing and any other activities you love that help restore and refresh you. Contact us today at (949) 859-4700 to find out more.