Dementia affects the brain’s ability to learn new information.
That can make life confusing and frightening. Establishing a routine and following it as closely as possible each day can make life easier and more comfortable for your aging relative. It can also make being their caregiver less challenging.
Experts say that part of the reason routines are comforting to people with dementia is because short-term memory is affected before long-term memory is. Routines are associated with long-term memory because they usually involve things people have been doing for a while.
Establishing a routine may not be as easy as it sounds when someone with dementia is involved.
-One of the first things you need to do is think about what they have done in the past. If the older adult has a habitual way of going about things, try to stick as closely to that as possible. For example, if the person has always gotten up, eaten breakfast, then taken a shower, incorporate that into the routine instead of trying to change the order. Also, keep in mind their likes and dislikes. Don’t expect them to suddenly be willing to do things they have never enjoyed.
-When planning appointments or other activities that may be challenging, schedule them for the time of day when the person is usually more alert. Trying to get through a doctor’s appointment when the person is tired, irritable, and confused can make it even more difficult than usual.
-Keep in mind that it will take the older adult longer to do even the simplest of tasks, like getting dressed. Include plenty of time in the day for routine tasks.
-Finally, include time for yourself in the daily routine. You’re going to need a break, even if it’s just a couple minutes to sit down with your feet up. Plan ways to do that each day. For example, let the older adult watch their favorite television program at the same time each day so you can rest. You should also include activities that both you and the older adult like. That way you can do things together that don’t solely focus on their care.
Once you’ve established a routine, write it down.
That way other family caregivers can follow it as well. If sticking to a routine is difficult because of your job or because you have children who need you, elderly care can fill in when others cannot be there. Elderly care providers can help the older adult to get up, have meals, and go to bed on schedule. An elderly care provider can even take the senior to appointments and do activities with them throughout the day.