An Introduction to Journaling for the Elderly

Scientific studies indicate that delving deep into your emotions generates the best results from journaling.

When you hear about “journaling,” it’s something more associated with teenagers trying to wrap their head around new life experiences and the associated emotions.

Seniors, on the other hand, have seen it, done it, and told everybody about it.

As such, it’s only natural that the idea of starting a journal into your 60s, 70s, or 80s would raise an eyebrow or two.

The above notion couldn’t be any less misguided. At no point in our lives do we stop experiencing trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Moreover, the benefits of journaling for seniors are as plentiful as they are powerful.

Read below to learn more about how journaling helps seniors and a few suggestions on how to get started.

Edgewood Healthcare provided a blog that clearly highlighted the following.

3 advantages for seniors when they begin to journal:

  1. Improved dexterity,
  2. Enhanced healing powers, and
  3. Staving off dementia.

We’ll start with how journaling improves your dexterity.

1) Maintain and Improve Your Dexterity

Arthritis – and similar inflammatory conditions – become all too prominent when we age, leading to weakened muscles and stiff joints. Quality of life becomes tremendously hindered when the most elementary use of one’s hands becomes a Herculean task. Suddenly, it’ll seem impossible to even pick up tiny pills or hold a glass of water.

Writing a journal with a pen – as an entirely functional task – maintains muscle activity, which helps fight arthritis and similar issues. A few notes here and there can go far in soothing the aches and pains that could otherwise overwhelm your day-to-day.

2) Shortened Healing Time

Studies continue to mount, suggesting that journals help with your physical health – not only your psychological state.

More specifically, a journal from Psychosomatic Medicineassessed 49 health seniors between 64 and 98 years old.

During this study, one group wrote for three days about their most traumatic life experiences. They were told to be candid. Alternatively, the other seniors merely wrote out their daily plans.

When the three days reached their end, each senior received a skin biopsy to create a small wound – which was captured in photos by the researchers. Those who wrote more emotionally healed more rapidly than those merely penning their activities.

At the 11-day mark, a touch over three-quarters of those writing about traumas had healed entirely. Whereas only 42% had recovered in the other group.

It’s still unclear what led to the expedited healing times. There are musings about those writing more emotionally experiencing better sleep due to unleashing their mental anguish in their journal. Plus, correlations with reduced stress were hypothesized.

Given the increased risk for surgeries and sicknesses, these journaling-based healing capabilities could play extraordinary dividends for seniors.

3) Staving Off Dementia

With the heightened risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in seniors, memory loss becomes a growing issue.

Writing and reading a journal helps with cognitive functions that neutralize forgetfulness. A journal called Neurologyexamined memory decline in seniors.

The journal noted how mental decline occurred at a 32% slower rate in seniors performing mentally stimulating activities than those that didn’t. It was theorized by researchers that the ageing brain is bolstered by reading and writing, which helps combat against dementia symptoms.

Beyond that, writing various items and moments in a journal helps seniors struggling with memory loss to remember, giving them a reference point.

Passing Down Wisdom to Younger Generations

An additional benefit of seniors journaling comes from the Green House Homes at Mirasol.

The blog being referenced discusses how journaling means your writings can get passed down to future generations. The journal becomes something of a family heirloom that even yet-to-be-born children might read one day.

Meaning you’ll add more significance to your already remarkable life by making these efforts. Your family will learn from your perspective and wisdom, cherishing your time on this earth.

How to Start Your Journal

It’s quite simple to start your journal. Merely purchase a pen and notepad.

Provided you’re physically unable to write due to arthritis, consider asking someone to ghostwrite for you. Conversely, recording a verbalized journal is another viable option, especially since everything from our phones to laptops offers such capabilities.

Something else to consider is memory issues. If you struggle with forgetfulness, use prompts to remind you to write in your journal, perhaps in the form of a to-do list (as suggested by the Mayo Clinic).

What Should You Write About?

As mentioned earlier in this blog, scientific studies indicate that delving deep into your emotions generates the best results from journaling.

That said, penning a journal doesn’t need to be a process wrought with reliving traumas. Writing about anything, from your trip to the store to your dinner with the family, has its advantages. This idea rings true even if it’s helping with memory recall or maintaining dexterity.

What matters is you make an effort to consistently journal, due to the plethora of ways it will benefit your overall quality of life in your twilight years.

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