Reduce caregiving stress with a notebook
Did you know that keeping a caregiving notebook actually reduces stress? As a caregiver, you manage many areas of your older adult’s life. One of the most important is the day-to-day activities like eating, taking medications, bathing, toileting, monitoring pain, and so much more.
Trying to remember what was done, any problems that came up, or what still needs to be done adds another layer of pressure and clutters your mind. Writing this stuff down in a notebook dedicated to caregiving takes that information out of your overloaded brain.
Caregivers have too much to keep in their heads
In a typical day, you might be trying to remember if you already gave your senior their mid-morning dose of medication or if you got distracted by a big mess they made at 10:15am and forgot to give it at all.
Then, you might wonder, when was the last time they bathed? Was it Tuesday or Thursday? Shoot, the doctor’s appointment is coming up soon. There were a few days when they had a sharp pain in their side. You know the doctor is going to ask for more details when you tell them about it. But was it last week or the week before? And wasn’t there something else going on when the pain started?
Argh! It’s too much to remember! All these details can’t possibly be retained perfectly by your tired, stressed brain. But yet, you need these important facts. Getting this stuff out of your head and onto paper is an effective way of keeping track of essential information while reducing stress and overwhelm.
It helps you become an even better caregiver
Keeping track of day-to-day activities and symptoms also helps you become an even better caregiver. Having everything in one notebook makes it easier to spot worrying trends and patterns, like if your senior has been going to the bathroom 12 times a day for the past two days rather than their usual 8 times (hello, possible UTI!).
With all the information in front of you, it’s easier to catch negative situations before things get really bad or see proof that your senior is improving. Plus, you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed because things won’t be slipping through the cracks.
2 free caregiver notebook templates
To get you started with your caregiver notebook, we found two free templates that help you keep track of daily activities. Print or save these templates and use them as is by putting them in a 3-ring binder.
If these aren’t quite right for your situation, use them as a starting point to create something that tracks only the information that helps you.
1. Caregiver organizer template from How to Care for Aging Parents
A lot of the pages in this template help you gather and organize the basic info and documents caregivers need.
We’ve highlighted the pages that help you track important daily tasks:
- Page 7 – Weekly medication chart helps you track exact time and day that each dose is taken. You can also make notes of any side effects you might observe.
- Page 9 – Medical log helps you track any unusual events or symptoms over day, weeks, or months. Then, when you ask the doctor about troubling symptoms, you’ll already be prepared to give details about what’s happening.
- Page 14 – Daily log tracks the activities that happen each day. You’ll never have to wonder when the last time you changed their sheets or gave them a shower. Add specific dates at the top of the page so you can look back over time to find out when changes, like refusing to bathe, first started.
- Page 18 – You don’t have to use this monthly budget template as a budgeting tool. It’s also handy for keeping track of when bills are paid so you won’t forget something important like the insurance premium or electricity bill.
2. Checklists from the National Caregivers Library
The National Caregivers Library has a ton of useful checklists and forms you can print or save to help with a wide variety of caregiving situations, from senior housing to finances to care planning.
We’ve focused on two forms that track daily activities. Click the links to print or save each one.
- Daily Log – Fill out one of these forms each day to keep track of essentials like eating, medication, and activities. It also has space to make notes about any changes you see and their level or energy, sleep quality, and feelings of illness or discomfort.
- Appointment information – Take this form to each doctor appointment to help you remember to ask important questions and write down the answers. It’s tough to memorize everything the doctor said, this way you can always look at your notes.
Paper or electronic notebook – which is best?
Despite the fact that we love technology, we actually recommend using paper for your caregiver notebook. We think it’s easier to use, review, and share with other people who are helping with care.
If you’d prefer to use a website or mobile app as your caregiving notebook, Dr. Leslie Kernisan reviewed a few tech tools that help you track caregiving information online and on your mobile phone.
Getting all these important details out of your head and down onto paper helps you stay organized, feel more in control, and reduce stress.
A caregiver notebook can also help you quickly figure out which symptoms are one-time occurrences you don’t need to worry about and which ones need to be discussed with the doctor because they keep coming up.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Cassie Premo Steele