Routines and consistency provide comfort, calmness, safety, and a sense of control over their lives even while dementia patients are losing so much. Routines can cut down on agitation, aggression, and restlessness – which is beneficial for both the patient and those around them. Even with new routines, establishing a pattern can help to add this new information to the brain.
People experiencing dementia thrive on what is familiar – the Sunday paper, their morning walk, taking their cup of tea in the same cup – anything that helps them to feel grounded. Routines can help diminish negative behaviors such as aggression or agitation. because patients feel more in control. They help dementia patients to move through and complete activities of daily living, needing less direction and assistance. Caregiver stress is reduced as the patient is more relaxed and able, enabling both patient and caregiver to focus on connection as well as the task at hand.
Creating a routine or daily schedule for dementia patients should reflect their likes and preferences, therapeutic activities and basic daily living activities.
Try to create a balance of practical and fun things to do that reflects who they are. For example, if they’ve always started their day with a cup of coffee or a piece of music, include that in their daily plan. And while the structure of the dementia patient’s day might be dictated by outside influences such as facility schedules and medication times, allowing patients choice within those schedules (i.e. Which craft activity do they want to participate in? What sweater do they want to wear?) will help everyone!
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Some other things to think of include: Be prepared to adjust the schedule based on the patient’s abilities and illness progression. As they need more help to accomplish daily living activities, schedules will have to change.
Incorporate basic daily chores within the daily schedule. This will help with physical therapy needs, encourage feelings of self-worth and a sense of normalcy. Participating in small daily chores and allowing for small mundane practices allows patients to feel secure.
Include daily exercise and movement within the schedule. We all know that creating an exercise routine will result in better keeping to needed physical activity. Routine movement allows for better brain functioning and physical health. Physical activities can include walking, simple yoga exercises or dancing.
Include both standard therapeutic activities and creative activities into their day. Scheduling medications makes medication management more likely and scheduling in creative activities whether music, crafts or art will make everyone’s day more enjoyable.
Schedule activities that help to measure time, such as reading the Sunday paper, daily weather checking, gardening, or watching a favorite television show on a certain night.
Try to keep these tips in mind as you develop a daily schedule for your loved one. Remember to try, as often as possible, to allow them to be part of the decision-making process when creating their routine and schedule.
As much as we want to support our loved ones and keep them in the comfort of their home, it is important to recognize it is time to seek help. Look for help from a memory care facility when the situation begins to feel unsafe for you or your loved one. Issues such as wandering, agitation, aggression or falling mean that it is time to get help.
While short term memory loss may not immediately be cause for taking action, any situation where a person cannot readily take care of their daily living activities by themselves warrants attention. Talking to a medical professional or memory care facility director will help you make further decisions about getting your loved one the care that they need.
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