Journal: The Caregiver’s Best Friend

How a journal can help those in the “In-Between Zone”

One thing that I like about modern technology is email. Email is a sort of modern day journal. Emails can store memories, receipts, plane tickets, and so much more. Recently I was reading my “email journal” when I found somethning interesting: A couple of years ago, we received the following email from one of our loyal readers who, at that time, had recently lost her Mom.

This post is not only inspirational – it is also full of wisdom! These insights are worth their weight in gold to other caregivers who are going through the process now and who will benefit from these experiences. Here’s the post:

I’m writing this after losing my Mom a few months ago.

Suggestion 1:

Early on, I bought a blank, purse-sized journal in which I kept important information and notes about my parents’ health, doctor visits, medicines, brands/descriptions of personal care items, etc. This was to keep things straight in MY head since I was also working full-time. The smartest thing I did was show the journal to my parents right after I bought it. I made fun of myself needing this “crutch” to keep it all organized. It wasn’t long before whenever there was a question, I’d whip out the book and read it to them.

Later, when Mom began to “forget” important things (like what the doctor said), she couldn’t argue if it was in the journal. The fact that I had admitted early on needing help remembering things myself, helped her accept it when I had to “correct” her memory (using the journal) when she got off track concerning vital issues.

Suggestion 2:

I had to learn the difference between VITAL issues and things I could let go. (Kind of like choosing your battles when you have teenagers.) VITAL issues involve health and safety. I could overlook the house not being as clean, or my Mom wearing the same clothes 2 days in a row, but had to speak firmly about mistakes in the pill boxes, climbing a ladder to change a light bulb, or putting safety bars in the bathroom. If they pushed back, (usually saying they didn’t want to bother me to change a light bulb, etc.), I’d tell them it would take me less time to change it than take one of them to the ER after a fall and then have to help cook and clean while they rehabbed a broken bone! They wanted to continue making their own decisions and living their own lives. I told them that was fine EXCEPT when the decision risked and accident that would inevitably involve me picking up the pieces. They had to admit that poor decisions would affect me, and (reluctantly) agreed to accept help with certain tasks that involved their health and safety.

My Personal Takeaway Journal

If you are reading this, please do what I did below – read it and pull out your top 4 take-a-ways. Please don’t be limited by mine – then apply these insights to your situation.

Regular Use of a Journal

“Early on I bought a blank, purse-sized journal in which I kept important information and notes about my parents’ health, doctor visits, medicines, brands/descriptions of personal care items, etc. This was to keep things straight in MY head since I was also working full-time.”

Yes! Many of us mistakenly think we can remember it all! As time goes on the notes pile up, you realize that this thought was just funny! You will rely more and more on your journal. This is so important, we are working on a Medical Visits Journal (in house) that will be available soon. But don’t wait on us! Get a journal and start today!

Your Crutch

“The smartest thing I did was show the journal to my parents right after I bought it. I made fun of myself needing this “crutch” to keep it all organized. It wasn’t long before whenever there was a question, I’d whip out the book and read it to them. Later, when Mom began to “forget” important things (like what the doctor said), she couldn’t argue if it was in the journal. The fact that I had admitted early on needing help remembering things myself, helped her accept it when I had to “correct” her memory (using the journal) when she got off track concerning vital issues.

This is a great idea. By positioning this (early on) as your crutch – it was much more palatable for your Mom

Choosing Your Battles

“I had to learn the difference between VITAL issues and things I could let go. (Kind of like choosing your battles when you have teenagers.) VITAL issues involve health and safety”.

Good analogy to teenagers! There are many things that may make you uncomfortable (or even cringe!) but there are a few where you have to take a stand. Thank you for these distinctions.

Letting Them See How This Will Affect You

“They wanted to continue making their own decisions and living their own lives. I told them that was fine EXCEPT when the decision risked and accident that would inevitably involve me picking up the pieces. They had to admit that poor decisions would affect me, and (reluctantly) agreed to accept help with certain tasks that involved their health and safety”.

Many times parents are so focused on maintaining their own independence that they forget about other things – like how this will affect you if they break a bone and need even more care. Conveying this fact has to be done in a tactful way. Ideally you can convey this concern in a way that they “realize it” as opposed to you shaming them into it.

These were my top takeaways. What tips did you get that will help you as you continue to serve those who are depending on you for assistance?

Next Step:

Start using a journal today. There are some great tips contained herein.
AND if your parents are doing things that (if they turned out badly) would affect you, use the tips contained herein to have a discussion as to ways that you could help so as to minimize the risk.

Finally, Please send your input as to what you are currently doing to help your parents who are in the In-Between Zone. Your comments may be posted in a future edition. Thanks for your help. Many folks are struggling with these issues so any input will help us all.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

We want to be friends!

Ok. That might come off a little fast, but you can trust us. We want to help! We fully understand the stress and turmoil that you are facing as Family Caregiver – including personal experiences with burnout.

In our time as caregivers, we have amassed a wealth of knowledge that we desire to pass on. We understand the emotions involved while making necessary preplanning and caregiving decisions. Likewise, we have met many professional caregivers (like Alzheimer’s Caregiver Phil Smith), as well as other family members who were thrust as Family Caregiver. All caregivers have shared the same advice – Join a community! There is nothing more cleansing for our situation than knowing that we are not alone!

We have since created Caregiver Connection. Caregiver Connection is a newsletter that we write personally and send to fellow Caregivers. It is full of tips, tricks, direction and even professional advice. If you would like to sign up, click the button below.

Please Invite Someone to Our Newsletter

Being an Adult Kid who is helping mom as she is declining can be a scary, frustrating and lonely place lacking stability. You feel like you are solely responsible for solving Mom’s problems while managing yours. Some occasional input and a community you can trust would help, especially when facing burnout! This is a way that all of us can be working together as caregivers!

Many others that you may personally know are having to figure it all out by themselves. Most of them have no community. Please take a minute and do them a favor. Copy this link ~> help.mom/cc <~ and send it to them in an email or private message. They can click on it and subscribe to our newsletter for free.

Then they can enjoy weekly tips and encouragement. They no longer have to feel so alone in their family caregiver journey. They will appreciate the favor! Thank you for thinking of them!

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