Tuesday, October 15, 2013

 Caregiving 101:  Keep a journal!

          When we take on the role of caregiver, we take on many responsibilities.  In addition to all things custodial, my caring for Mom not only includes getting her to her doctor's appointments and seeing that medications are taken properly, but I have also taken on the role of advocate.  When Mom has been too ill to be able to talk to the physician, especially in the emergency room, it has been up to me to let them know what is going on.  At those times, it has been extremely beneficial to all of us for me to be able to open my journal and relay information to the doctor.  Our journal includes daily blood pressure readings, oxygen readings, daily fluid intake (Mom is prone to dehydration), and notes from our doctor visits.  When Mom has been prescribed a medication and it had an adverse effect on her, I note that in the journal and the next time a doctor suggest that medication for her, I can tell them why she can't take it, all because I made notes about it.

          When Mom was first diagnosed with her terminal illness, we invested in an inexpensive digital blood pressure monitor, a digital thermometer, and because she is constantly on oxygen, an inexpensive oxygen saturation meter.  Every day I take her blood pressure and oxygen saturation readings first thing in the morning, early evening, and the last thing at night and record these readings in a journal.  When we go to the doctor or when she has been in the hospital, I stay with her and record all of the nurse's vital readings as well.  Having the journal to show the physician gives a better over-all view of her situation.

         Caregiver, don't think you can rely on your memory!  Trust me!  You won't remember all of the details, especially when it is an emergency and you are grabbing your purse and their meds and jumping into the rescue squad for a mad dash to the emergency room!  It is better to write everything down and remember where the paper is! 

         A journal is also especially helpful if more than one person is giving care for a loved one, or when you have someone come in to be with the loved one while you are away.  A list of all medications and when they are given is a must when there is shared responsibilities! 

         Your journal doesn't have to be fancy forms.  If you prefer forms, that's great but it can be as simple as a spiral notebook.  Find what works for you and use it!  However, I do advise against using small pieces of scrap paper unless it is just to make a quick note that you later transfer to your journal.  Small pieces of paper have a way of getting lost, while a larger notebook is easy to find!

         Caregiver, if you are not in the habit of note keeping, please, please get in the habit of doing that where your loved one is concerned!  It will save you so much grief! 

         And as always, ask the Lord for guidance and wisdom for whatever you do in your role as caregiver.  And when you don't see a clear leading, do what you would want done for you if the roles were reversed.  Keep looking up, and keep moving forward!


        There are a number of forms on the internet that are free for personal use.  A particularly good reference is "Caring for Elderly Parents" and is available at the U.S. Department of State website at the following link:


         Another very good resource is "A Handbook for Family Caregivers of Patients with Serious Illness" which  includes printable forms.  It is available in an Adobe .pdf format at the following link:

   If you don't have an Adobe reader, it is available for free download a copy at the following link:

    Because I work a great deal on the computer, I have created several forms that have been very helpful for me.  I am including them below and you are welcome to copy and print them for your personal use. They are in a .jpg format (as a photo).  With your mouse pointer on the image, you can right click and save the image to your computer. 





  1. I think this is fabulous advice!!! I know there's no way I could remember all of the info I'd need to keep track of in a case like this.

  2. I think this is fabulous advice!!! I know there's no way I could remember all of the info I'd need to keep track of in a case like this.


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