Caregivers often have a lot that they’re asked to do. Sure, it’s what they signed up for, whether it’s helping residents of Cedar Rapids or elsewhere improve or move through a hospice program. But should they also add “keep accurate journals” to their regular responsibilities?
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice encourage caregivers to do so, whether they’re certified nurses or friends or family members wanting to help out a loved one.
A journal can provide useful day-to-day or at least week-to-week information about a client, including their physical, mental and emotional condition, and how or what may have changed from the previous entry.
Journals can also be handy for providers who want to track how a client is doing, especially someone with a progressive health condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
These documents don’t have to be extensive publications that go on for pages either. In many cases, the caregiver would be fine jotting down basic info and observations, such as what the client is feeling and experiencing, including mood, medication, diet, activity, and lucidity.
Then it’s up to other medical personnel to interpret their observations and make decisions regarding the patient’s care.
So if you’re looking for ways to provide excellent care, regular journaling can be a big help.
Some of the other reasons that a journal can be useful for a caregiver include:
- Legal matters. If a family member or another guardian dispute someone’s diagnosis or care plan or at least wants more information about what they’re receiving, a caregiver’s notes about their daily activity can be especially useful. The info can demonstrate a pattern of care, including any therapy or medication provided. While the caregiver may not necessarily be asked to testify in court or share their medical opinion, their information and observations can be useful.
- Mental health needs. Journaling is often suggested as a tool to help people deal with complex feelings. If they can’t express them openly, sometimes they can write them out and start to feel slightly better. Because caregiving can be stressful at times, people may enjoy the ability to confidentially jot down their thoughts and work through these emotions. This may include sharing your frustrations, concerns, and challenges. Being able to express your feelings in this way can help you be a better caregiver – journaling can help you reduce stress and maybe even feel better about your client or profession.
- Family awareness. If family members are spread out geographically they may hire a caregiver to take care of a loved one since they’re unable to do so themselves. So seeing regular notes about how they’re doing, positive or negative, can make them aware of their condition and reassured that he or she is in good hands.
- Creating a routine. A caregiver – and a client – may enjoy being able to perform the same task around the same time every day or at the same point in every visit. This can also create a good standard, since people’s moods and even weight may change through the day, but if the same measurements are taken at the same time, it can be consistent for everyone.
- Useful information for other providers. The client’s provider is always interested in how he or she is doing but they can’t check in all the time. But they may be interested in looking at a caregiver’s notes and observations about their health. This way they’ll have better info about whether to change medications, treat other symptoms or even improve/update their initial diagnosis.
- A treasured keepsake. Future generations may appreciate the chronicling of the final days of a loved one. Even if the details are on the clinical side, it still can be included in various forms of documentation about the person’s life.
- Information for a client. He or she may be interested in seeing how their health is changing or progressing over time, or at least “what you’re writing down.” This could be a good way to get them to be part of the process, including you asking them certain questions each time you update your journal. You can tell them why it’s important that certain factors are included. They may start to look forward to the regular journal updates as well.
- Boost feelings of gratefulness. A caregiver having a positive outlook can go a long way in helping them make it through the day with a smile on their face and happiness in their heart. These good feelings can also be easily shared with a client to hopefully improve their day since it’s also easy for them to start to feel depressed and fatigued about their current condition. But focusing on trying to find “what’s great” in your updates, not just the negative or clinical info, can help everyone feel better.
Overall, keeping clear, accurate journals can be a good way to benefit everyone.