When my grandmother was alive and living in a nursing home someone in my large extended family had the bright idea of placing a guest book in her room. She had so many visitors from around her small town, not to mention the nine children and 55 grandchildren that came to see her. A guest book helped her remember who visited and when. It was also interesting to family members to see who had been there earlier in the day, week, or month. The guest book was also a source of conversation. If she could remember, we asked about her visits with others and how they were doing. She may not have always remembered the visit, but she would usually remember the person.
Keeping a journal helps an older person to remember.
Here are some thoughts on keeping a journal or guest book:
- Records such as journals and guest-books can record visits by family members and friends. Both books can be used not only to record names and dates, but also what activity or conversation took place during the visit. Include photos of the visit and any activities and outings that happened.
- Photo albums are a nice way to remember previous visits. Each time you visit, bring pictures from prior visits and add them to the album. Reminisce about the time spent together.
- Include in your journal mementos like brochures from outings, tickets to a movie seen together, fortune from a Chinese fortune cookie, or menu from a restaurant.
- Leave the journal on an end table or coffee table for your loved one to look at. Record in it each time you visit.
- Keep the recording simple, not too lengthy, and use large print if needed.
- Keep the journaling positive. Don’t provide any unfortunate events like falls that happened. That information can be kept in another private communication tool for caregivers.
- If your loved one is in a nursing home, a journal or guest book can be kept there as well.
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