You may choose to use a notebook, a pad of paper, a Word doc, or even a series of texts you send yourself. But however you choose to journal, it will benefit you as a caregiver. Journaling is also a wonderful idea for seniors to keep track of their daily activities, thoughts and feelings, and – perhaps most important for many older adults – their memories.
James Pennebaker, PhD, a psychologist and expert in expressive writing, said journaling strengthens the immune system and helps to prevent illness. He also said that journaling reduces depression and anxiety and can help with successful social interaction and increased satisfaction with close relationships.
“We know from multiple studies that there are enhancements in immune function, drops in blood pressure, improvements in sleep, and drops in other markers of stress,” he said. “Other studies find faster wound healing, greater mobility among people with arthritis, and the list goes on.”
Journaling is a good activity for caregivers and older adults to do together. Schedule time a few days a week to sit quietly and write for a set length of time–start with 20 minutes. Some enjoy journaling in different colors, doodling pictures or making lists, while others write in complete sentences and have a beginning, middle and end for each entry. The only rule for journaling is to do what makes you feel good, what holds your interest and will keep you coming back regularly to journal again and again.
10 journaling prompts for caregivers
These prompts will get you started if you want your journaling to focus on your caregiving. Remember to be completely honest in your journal. No one will read it except you, and to get the most benefit out of journaling, you must be truthful with yourself.
- What’s something you would like to do better as a caregiver?
- How did you make a difference in your loved one’s life today?
- What did (or will) you do today to pamper yourself?
- What’s your favorite thing about caregiving?
- What’s the hardest thing about caregiving?
- What could you do to make your job easier?
- What could others do to help you make your job easier?
- What were you most grateful for today?
- What makes you feel anxious or concerned as a caregiver?
- What do you wish others knew about your job as a caregiver?
10 journaling prompts for older adults
Journaling is an excellent way to rekindle the creative side that may have gotten lost in the day-to-day tasks of living for older adults. For some people, journaling is the first time they put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to write creatively or personally.
Whatever your senior’s experience with writing, journaling or other activities they do to keep their mind healthy and active, having a list of prompts on hand for their journaling will make it easier for them to get going with their writing. Let them know they don’t have to share anything they write unless they want to, and if they do choose to let you read what they write (or listen to them read it aloud), don’t critique their words, spelling or grammar. What’s important is they express themselves, and even better if they trust you with their writing.
- What’s your favorite way to spend the day?
- When do you feel happiest?
- What current event or issue do you feel very strongly about?
- What words of wisdom would you tell your 16-year-old self?
- What advice would you give to your children and grandchildren?
- When in your life did you feel most proud?
- Where was your favorite place you lived?
- Have you ever done something you were told you couldn’t do?
- Who have been the most important people in your life?
- When in your life were you most content?
- Who was your first love?
10 journaling prompts to do together
A fun way to get to know each other better is for you and your senior to do some journaling together. Use the same prompt, write for 15 minutes, and then share what you’ve written. You may find similarities in how you think, feel or experience the world you didn’t know you shared.
- List 25 things that bring you joy.
- What’s a recurring dream you have?
- If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it include?
- The best place I’ve ever traveled to is…
- You can invite four characters from TV shows to dinner. Who are they, and why did you choose them?
- If you could spend a day with a loved one who has died, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
- What are your top five favorite movies, songs, TV shows and books?
- If you could have one talent and be famous for it, what would it be, and how would you use it to make the world a better place?
- What is the best thing about you? How has it impacted your life?
- What would you do with it if you were given $1 million but had to give it all away?
Journaling can open up conversations between you and your older adult; it can be a private way for each of you to understand yourselves, let out your emotions, frustrations and needs, or simply give you both the chance to have a little fun every day.