We, as humans, crave routine. Routines allow us to feel comfortable and safe. Having consistency in your day can considerably simplify your life. When you are a person with abnormal cognitive function, such as a person with dementia, the need for consistency is even greater. The same can be said for seniors with dementia. People who are experiencing memory loss need consistency and routine more so to feel comfortable in themselves. Often if a senior with dementia can be confused if they are swept outside of their daily routine.
Routine is Important
When you have routine, your life can be more consistent. This is because chemicals are released that allow your brain to form habits. When good behaviors become habitual your mind does not need to dedicate as much effort toward performing them. This is important in all people, but especially those who do not have normal cognitive function, like seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. When a senior with dementia can make habits within a daily routine they can focus more cognitive energy on challenging things like socializing or learning. To help with this we have developed a few tips to help you make your loved one feel more comfortable day to day by establishing consistency.
5 Ways to Maintain Routine
1. Have a Daily Schedule
Families caring for a senior loved one should start with a daily schedule. You can make this daily schedule a long for weekly schedule, but the activities should remain consistent each day. Activities on this schedule should be broken down into 30-minute segments. Lengthy activities tend to overwhelm seniors with dementia. For someone who is struggling to remember at the capacity that a health brain can it can be a great comfort to rely on certain events during the day. Additionally, from a physical standpoint the body will create habits of daily routines. When the brain connects daily behaviors to a habit it no longer must expend as much energy toward that activity. People suffering with dementia can rely on habitual routines to help them allocate more brain function to more difficult tasks.
To help you develop the best plan for your senior loved one, we have created a weekly care planner. Download the template, customize it to your loved one’s needs, and print it out to share with your loved ones.
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2. Meal, Medicine, and Bedtime Consistency
When creating a daily routine there are certain activities that should be emphasized in importance. Eating can be difficult and overwhelming for a person suffering with dementia. For this reason, mealtimes should be established. Making a habit of meal time can help a senior focus more on the act of eating and getting more nutrition. Additionally, medicine should be given at the same time every day. This will help to relieve confusion and agitation that can happen around the administering of medicine. Additionally, taking medicine at consistent times will help the effectiveness of the medication. Finally, bed times should always be consistent. This can be especially helpful for a loved one who is suffering with symptoms of Sundowner’s Syndrome. It can be helpful to set an alarm so that your loved one knows exactly when it is time to go to sleep.
3. Keep Their Environment Familiar
While a healthy minded individual might enjoy a change of scenery, rearranging the home can be detrimental for a senior who is suffering with dementia. Avoid repainting walls, rearranging furniture, or moving your senior loved one if possible. Taking in and understanding a new environment can be a daily struggle for a person suffering with dementia. Moving a person with dementia into a facility or an in-law suite should either be done at the beginning signs of dementia, or as a last resort. For someone who has become acclimated to a certain environment, adapting to new changes can be difficult. Try to keep your loved one’s home as consistent and reliable as possible.
4. Give Conversational Confidence
Seniors who have dementia are often very strong in their long-term memory, but not so strong in their short-term memory. Because of this talking about recent events or pop culture can be confusing and overwhelming. Instead, when you are speaking with your loved one ask them about stories from their life. Ask them to explain their career or their childhood to you. They will likely have many in depth stories to share. If your loved one must focus all their energy on remembering detail they will likely exhaust themselves and not be able to enjoy their conversation with you. Keep your loved one confident in themselves by allowing them to speak about their memories.
5. Employ a Consistent Care Team
Many seniors who suffer with dementia rely on an outside caregiver to assist with daily tasks. One important thing to remember when employing these caregivers is reliability and consistency. If you plan on relying on these caregiver’s long term they must be able to make a commitment to you and your loved one. Having multiple caregivers come in and out of the home can agitate and confuse your loved one. We recommend employing no more than 3 caregivers to help with tasks. Do not allow a home care agency to continually switch the caregiver for your loved one with dementia. This can be detrimental to the effectiveness of their care. Those with dementia must form a bond with their caregivers to benefit from the care received.
Do you need help planning care for your loved one?
Maintaining a comfortable, familiar environment is key to effective dementia care. If you are struggling to effectively plan your care, it can be extremely beneficial to have a care consultant to discuss care strategy with. If you would like to talk with one of our dementia care consultants, follow the link below:
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