Nothing on this page is intended as personal legal advice. For legal questions, it is important to consult an attorney in your own community.
By Melissa Lackman, Esq.
There are several circumstances in which it is wise to make careful records of the events and care surrounding your loved one. These might include:
• When your loved one is newly-diagnosed or in an unstable condition
• When you are the court-ordered conservator, or if you are seeking a conservatorship
• When you are a single parent and the other parent disagrees with the diagnosis and/or treatment plan
• When you fear that someone may call your caregiving decisions into question and ask Child Protective Services to investigate
• When the schools are reluctant to provide services tailored to the needs caused by the disability
What kinds of records might be helpful in these circumstances? If mental illness is part of the picture, daily mood charts are very useful tools. They help the doctor to see whether medications are working as intended, and help to identify factors that may be impacting your loved one’s condition. Here are some examples:
• https://www.moodtracker.com/ — an online charting tool that gives you a printable color chart; tracks mood and medications
• http://www.mood-chart.com– also an online tool, allows charting of sleep and medical symptoms as well as medications and mood
• www.psycheducation.org/PCP/handouts/Mood_Chart.doc — printable chart; also tracks exercise
The mood chart should become part of the notebook you keep for your loved one.
Another simple tool is the journal. If you keep a written journal of events, it should be in a bound book or spiral notebook, something that cannot easily be tampered with. Your entries should be dated and should include facts, not feelings. What happened today? What did you do to care for your loved one? How did your loved one do today? Were there any unusual events? Were there any problems? Did you administer medication, make a doctor visit, help with money matters, run errands together or on behalf of your loved one? Did anyone visit? Did your loved one work or attend school today? You can attach receipts for purchases you made for your loved one.
There are a number of free online diaries that offer secure journaling. Here are some examples:
Having good records helps to gain a sense of control in a difficult situation, and may be useful to you in the case of a conflict over your loved one’s care.
Melissa Lackman is a member of the California Bar, not currently in active practice. She is married to Vernon, a physician, and is privileged to be the mother of three children.