Journaling and a Dementia Journey

Vicky Pitner   -  

Providing support for someone living with memory loss, and a decline in judgment and self-help skills can be overwhelming. By learning effective communication techniques, and creating shared moments of joy can make such a difference in your experience and your loved ones. Having a “toolbox” full of stress-reduction strategies that can be incorporated into your daily routine can assist in addressing some of the concerns.

One such tool is journaling. Studies have shown that routine journaling can improve mood, immune system responses, and even lower blood pressure. Below are tips on how and why to begin to incorporate journaling into your daily or weekly routine.

  • Set a short goal of 5-10 minutes for a journal entry and be lenient if it doesn’t happen daily. Write as often as you can for as long as you would like. One day it may just be a word of gratitude or a prayer for help. Another day, it might be an enduring story you want to remember.
  • Research shows that people who use a “gratitude” journal daily are happier people.
  • Journaling creates time for reflection, insight, and even problem solving about a specific scenario providing an opportunity to find creative solutions.
  • Many emotions arise on a daily basis throughout the dementia journey. Using a journal as an outlet to identify specific emotions and/or conflicts can assist in stress reduction.
  • Regular journaling can assist in identifying patterns or trends in a loved one’s patterns that can be modified and minimize stress for the individual. For instance “Mom was angry again when I asked her to take a shower tonight. Tomorrow I think I will try to ask her during the daytime before she gets too tired.”
  • Remember that your journal is for you only. Do not worry about writing perfect sentences or having flawless grammar (unless you enjoy that). A journal is a place for unedited thoughts, fresh ideas, insights, praise reports, and struggles. It is a creative outlet for the mind as well as the heart.
  • Journaling provides an opportunity for the individual to press the “pause” button on life for just a moment. Especially in a day of caregiving, it can feel like there is never a moment of rest; however, by making the effort to sit down and journal for just a short period of time, respite can be achieved.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” –Anne Frank

If you would like more information on our Memory Ministry, Memory Café, or our Family and Friends Workshops, please contact Vicky Pitner at