Whether it’s a weekly fitness regimen, nightly dinner meal prep, or even a personal self-care routine to help you unwind after a long day, routines help us establish structure in our daily lives. For those living with dementia, daily routines are especially important.
Due to memory loss and other changes to the brain caused by dementia, a routine can help alleviate frustration, decrease anxiety and stress, and add a sense of familiarity as dementia progresses.
At The Woodlands at Canterfield, our Navigate Memory Care program is your compass – your roadmap to a clear path of support and care for your family’s journey. Below, we are sharing how establishing a routine is key for helping a loved one living with dementia.
How Do Routines Help?
In the early stages of dementia, establishing a routine can make it easier for those affected to navigate their daily life. This becomes increasingly important during later stages, as dementia can cause individuals to lose awareness of time and environment. You can create a daily routine or each part of the day can have its own pattern, i.e., a morning routine of getting showered and dressed, eating breakfast and going for a walk.
“Familiarity is important because dementia gradually impairs a person’s ability to plan, initiate and complete an activity. By creating an environment of familiar routines and activities, it allows them to feel comforted and calm. If they can still perform an activity, they can still retain their sense of control and independence. Furthermore, establishing a familiar pattern of events can help transfer the schedule of a daily routine into the long-term memory portion of the brain (alzheimersproject.org).”
A dementia daily routine can help people living with dementia regularly practice an activity, which can help maintain their functional abilities as the disease progresses.
In addition, routines can alleviate anxiety and frustration associated with the unexpected. A person living with dementia may feel more comfortable and confident knowing the structure, and this structure can help maintain their sense of control and independence.
How To Establish a Routine
“Routines are about keeping things predictable, so the person [living] with dementia isn’t overwhelmed with too many decisions, unfamiliar activities and changing schedules (verywellhealth.com).” Here are some helpful strategies to keep in mind while helping your loved one develop a dementia daily routine.
Include Tasks That Promote Time Management
By creating routines that happen at certain times during the day, your loved one will be able to increase the cues that allow them to understand the time, even if they’ve begun to lose a sense of how the hours pass. For example, start setting the table before meals to make it easier to know when it’s almost time to eat. Or, as you start the day, open the blinds to create a sense of “morning” in the routine.
Let Them Help
Remember, the goal is to add structure and control to their life. With this goal in mind, a person living with dementia should be an active participant in the routine. Whether setting the table or picking what they will wear, a dementia caregiver should be doing activities with them, not for them.
A dementia daily routine should balance between activities and rest so as to not overwhelm or overstimulate a person living with dementia.
Add Therapeutic Activities
If your loved one enjoys art, music, reading or other relaxing and fun hobbies, include those into their routine. This is a great way to help their cognitive ability while also allowing them to enjoy what they are passionate about.
In addition, music and art have been linked to improved mood, more communication, intellectual stimulation, opportunities for socializing and self-expression in those living with dementia.
As a caregiver or family member of someone living with dementia, it’s important to understand how to make this journey as easy as possible for your loved one. It’s equally as important that your loved one is able to do as much as they can for themselves for as long as possible. By helping them to create a helpful, therapeutic routine, you can easily give them a sense of independence, comfort, support and familiarity.
At The Woodlands at Canterfield, we embrace every resident’s needs and abilities, delivering person-centered memory care that helps them lead a life of purpose, dignity and safety.
Visit our website to learn more about our brand-new memory care community in West Dundee, Illinois.