You may have heard the expression, “Humans are creatures of habit.” Predictable routines reduce stress for all of us, but especially for the elderly. Consistency helps older adults remember what’s coming next and it can bring a sense of comfort and security. When an elderly person has dementia, habits and routines are even more important.
Benefits of a Predictable Routine
A caregiver who structures time for eating, bathing and dressing will provide feelings of safety to the senior cared for. The older adult may even sleep better with predictable sleep and wake up times. For those afflicted with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the routine may reduce the effects of what is commonly known as sundowning.
Aging adults suffering from dementia appear to be less confused with routines. Even if one doesn’t remember what he or she did earlier in the day, there is a subconscious sense of what’s coming next in the day, which can help with behavioral challenges, as well. Regular meal times by the caregiver will prevent extreme hunger and reduce stress and anxiety in dementia patients. When a caregiver adheres to a schedule, there’s less planning to do. The present moment with the elderly person being cared for becomes more enjoyable.
Planning a Daily Routine
Consider the older adult first
Consider the older adult first when planning meals, bathing or activities. What time of the day does the person seem to function best? Does this person already have a routine that has already been ritualized for years? If they are accustomed to waking up early for toast and coffee, let them keep their ingrained routine. Keep as many familiar routines as possible.
You’ll Need to Be Flexible
Flexibility as a caregiver is key. The daily routine is vital, but a level of flexibility will be needed occasionally. There will be occasions where an impromptu activity like an additional walk is just right for the day.
Be sure to schedule consistent activities, but bring in some variety, too. Include exercise, cognitive challenges, spiritual nourishment and social time. What hobbies does this adult have, or had at one time? Make modifications for any portions that have become too difficult.
A Place for Everything
Rearranging items in the home can cause confusion and frustration for the person being cared for. Endeavor to move things around only as needed for safety purposes.
Perhaps your loved one might benefit from a professional caregiver assisting with his or her tasks around the home? Home Care Assistance can provide professional in-home care to assist your older adult with as little or as much help as needed. Through our exclusive Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, our caregivers can also help with cognitive stimulation. Call your Home Care Assistance today at 802-231-0415.