The first person you probably think about when you hear the word journal is a young adult or even a teenager. Yet the truth of the matter is many seniors or older adults could also benefit from writing in a journal or diary. Journaling provides advantages at all ages, but for seniors, it can help improve both their mental and physical health. The purpose of journaling will depend on each person’s specific reasons. This article will introduce the many benefits to journaling, journal prompts that can help inspire creativity, and what seniors gain out of journaling. We will also provide the differences from writing in a journal by using pen and paper, compared to using a computer to type, whether it be online or offline. To get started, all you need is a notebook, writing utensil, and some dedication to do this fun activity every day. Now let’s talk about the five main benefits to writing in a journal for seniors.
Benefits to Writing in a Journal
1. Writing down experiences can preserve Memories.
Seniors have had many more experiences to share or talk about when they travel down memory lane. But as seniors get older, sometimes their memory is not as sharp it used to be. However, by writing in a journal they can preserve these memories and reminisce about them as they jot them down in a journal. It is also a great way to refresh their memory of activities that had occurred the night before. Although journals are often kept private, when seniors share their memories to their kids or grandkids, it can open a meaningful conversation. It can also help loved ones learn about their ancestry or heritage.
2. The act of writing in pen will keep your brain sharp and may also improve coordination skills.
When you write using a pen, you use more of your senses. You can hear the strokes of the pen or pencil, feel your hand brush against the paper, smell the paper, and even think about what you want to write as you write. You are using your fine motor skills, which benefits seniors as they age. We will discuss more of this later in Typing vs. Handwriting.
3.Using a computer to keep a journal allows seniors to become more tech savvy.
In today’s world, there are more opportunities to keep a journal online by using computer software. Seniors can also write about their inspirations on the internet. Seniors can link almost anything, from inspirational quotes, favorite recipes, or even ideas you may want to share to the world. Journaling on a computer can also benefit seniors that may have limited mobility by using special features such as talk to text and touch keyboards. Seniors can also use journaling apps on the phones. For more information, read on to Typing vs. Handwriting: Which is better?
4. Journaling is a stress reliever.
Journaling is also a therapeutic method to lowering stress levels. When writing down your thoughts, whether from the day or the week, it can help relax and calm your mind. In fact, many therapist encourage their mental health patients to journal, helping them organize their thoughts in their mind on paper. By doing this, it can allow seniors see more clearly and focus on what’s more important. Journaling can also help senors that may be facing anxiety or depression, due to a loss of a loved one. The mental benefits is very proactive and can also give seniors a separate outlet and help them write how they feel, instead of just verbalizing it with a therapist. As a result the power of grief can be lifted.
5. Writing can boost creativity.
There are many ways to use a journal. Many seniors use one for art therapy by doodling or drawing in one. It could be just as fun as writing in it. Some seniors that keep a journal may also write poetry or keep secret family recipes in one. According to the National Institute of Aging, creative writing can improve the quality of life and well-being in older adults. Other times a senior that uses a journal might just use one to compile family photos or even record your favorite sports team wins and loses. Be creative; the benefits are endless.
Journal Prompts That Inspire Seniors
When starting to journal, sometimes you need a little help in how to get started. This is common for seniors that haven’t picked up journaling before. As mentioned earlier, sometimes you need to be creative. Seniors should consider journaling prompts that can help them get in the swing of writing. Whether writing using a pen and paper, on the computer, or by using a typewriter, journaling prompts can give seniors a fresh start to a great hobby. It can also help those that suffer from writer’s block. Below are some of the most common journaling prompts that will inspire seniors get moving with writing in a journal.
1. Movies and music
Here’s a quick way to journal about your favorite movies or music bands. Write down which movies or music bands are your favorites. Then explain what makes them your favorite. Or, you can provide a brief summary of each movie you have watched the most and share in your journal how you felt about the movies or music you listen to. You can also jot down the lyrics to your favorite songs of the bands. Seniors that do this “exercise” can help improve their cognitive thinking and boost their memory!
2. Day-to-day reflections or fun activities
Another great way to journal is to write about current events in your community. Write down about what your opinions are about the latest trends in fashion, new businesses that are popping up in the town, or events specifically to your own town. For example, in the City of Commerce, TX; every September they have a Bois Arc Bash, which brings out the whole town for fun activities, music, and food! Seniors can also reflect on meaningful events of when they felt the happiest or even strange things that happen around you.
3. Anything random or fun
Seniors can write about anything in their journal, from what scares them the most, to places they have been to or visited, to what are their biggest pet peeves. Seniors may also write about their favorite time of the year to what are their favorite candle scents and why. The point is to make it random and fun. Sometimes just writing about your body or writing 20 things that makes you smile can also be fun.
4. Enhancing Your Memories
As we see, there are many types of journal prompts that seniors can use to get started in journaling. Choosing ways that can enhance your memory and your life is one the best types of journaling. For example, Seniors could write about their first love or important people that have impacted their lives. They can also write on recurring dreams that they may recently been having or even nightmares. Seniors can also write on how they felt when they were lied to by a loved one or when someone showed an act of kindness to you. Doing these types of writing exercises can help seniors who may be struggling with memory issues or have been diagnosed with dementia.
Typing vs. Handwriting: Which is Better?
With the boom of the technology advancements, it’s hard to think of a time when we didn’t communicate without using a computer, iPhone, laptop, or tablet. For centuries, people only had one option to take notes or write in a journal with; and that was by simply using a pencil or pen and a pad or notebook. However, now we can choose which one we feel more comfortable with. Whichever one you choose, it can help sharpen your memory, relieve stress, and possibly ward off any symptoms you may have of depression or isolation. Here are a few examples of each type of writing styles, and which one could be right for you.
Typing: Most young people use this form of writing; however, as technology is becoming more readily available, some seniors are pulling out the laptop and enjoying writing using an online format to journal in. In fact, there are benefits to using electronic devices compared to just picking up a pen and paper. When using a computer, seniors can check their spelling or grammar much easier by installing a grammar checker, such as Grammarly. The software will notify he senior if a word is misspelled right away before they move on to the next word or paragraph. Plus, typing on a computer can help seniors become more comfortable with technology.
Handwriting: For those that enjoy writing with a pen and paper, there are just as much benefits to it than typing on a computer. For one, writing by hand pushes the senior to boost the brain power. Seniors will be able to visualize and imagine what they see better when the handwrite. It can also help seniors increase their fine motor skills. Including, improving their hand-eye coordination, which many seniors do sometimes suffer from as they get older and may experiencing some cognitive declines.
*Food for thought- Whichever learning style you prefer, be aware that taking breaks is highly recommended. Taking a 10-15 minute break away from the computer or desk can help seniors relax their hand muscles and also get a better perspective on what their wring about. Some believe that handwriting is a better option for several reasons. Here are some of these reasons. Those who use an electrical device like a computer or laptop for long periods of time can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, poor posture, or eye strain. For seniors that may already have symptoms like this, it may be suggested to try handwriting first.
Going above and beyond in writing: Brain Training
When using a journal, your brain is constantly working, no matter if you’re typing or handwriting. Some may consider this as training your brain. There are some studies that prove when drawing out letters or taking notes can actually increases the effects of brain movement. In fact, it is believed that doing longhand is more effective in than if one was to type words on a computer. Basically, your brain is learning more effectively when handwriting.
Risks to writing for seniors
Although uncommon to some, there are a few risks for journaling for seniors. Here are just some of possible risks, whether handwriting or typing for seniors.
Seniors may Reinforce their Own Storytelling
When you journal, you create a point of view in your mind, and it can help you understand situations around you. However, sometimes seniors get stuck in their own opinions or ideas of had write down other solutions that contradict what really occurred when they journal. They may also look to blame someone for situations that they had no control of. The best thing to do is focus on your own point of view and not on others.
Writing can be introspective
Overall, this is not exactly a bad thing. Some people that are introspective or contemplate their life decisions can help see things in a new perspective. However, there is a downside to this. Spending too much time writing about everything you do, or overthinking every decision they make, it can cause a person to not get things done. To solve this issue, seniors should have a specific time of day to journal. It is a good idea to add it into the routine of the day. For instance, setting aside 30 minutes a day to journal.
What Can Seniors Gain from Keeping a Personal Journal?
In closing, we want to express and reiterate what can seniors really gain from journaling. For one, it will build or enhance memory, especially if it has already started to decline. Two, it can improve technological abilities for seniors, especially for those who are not digital savvy. And last, it can reduce stress and balance out any emotional strains of the senior. Bottom line, if you have something to say or share, even to yourself, just pick up that pen and write about it. When you do this, it will bring it to life.
Foods to Boost Your Memory and Brain
Memory Loss – Tips to Improve Your Memory
What are the Costs of Memory Care?
10 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – What Now?