Almost everyone adheres to a particular schedule every day, from the second you wake up to the moment you turn off your night light at dawn. However busy your day goes, there are things that you cannot forgo not doing and will always be a part of your daily routine, like drinking a cup of coffee when you wake up or brushing your teeth right before bed.
These routines seem minor and insignificant to the big and busy day you are constantly having. But that’s not the same case for seniors living with dementia.
Older adults with dementia or those who suffer from short-term memory loss need to be surrounded by familiar faces, things, environment, and even routines. They thrive on both familiarity and predictability because they need it to keep them grounded.
This is also the reason why most dementia memory care facilities establish routines for their residents. Further, they make sure to insert essential health activities into their habits, such as:
- Eating meals
- Drinking medications
- Bath time and hygienic activities
- Mind-stimulating hobbies
Whether your loved one lives in a senior home or with you, routines can help them lead better lives. Here are some of the most important reasons seniors with dementia need routines and how it contributes to their lives.
1. It Gives Structure to Their Lives
Seniors with memory loss can sometimes feel like their lives are in complete disorder. Frequently, they forget the plans they made, how to start their favorite hobby, or what to do with a comb and a mirror. There’s no sequence to their days because bits and pieces always get stolen by the disease.
This is why they need to cling to anything familiar, including their daily routines. Routine provides structure and gives order in their everyday lives. It allows them to have a predictable flow of activities thus, providing comfort and control.
Dementia memory care facilities usually stick to the routines a senior already had before dementia. This way, they can quickly adapt and maintain it throughout.
2. Provides A Sense of Control and Independence
Nobody has complete control over their lives. But seniors with dementia have a lesser grip on theirs because the disease affects their memory and consciousness.
However, establishing routines lets them regain control over their lives and have a sense of independence. This is because repeatedly doing predictable activities over and over again allows the brain to transfer it as part of the long-term memory.
As a result, seniors retain their ability to perform simple yet psychologically meaningful tasks like combing their hair or brushing their teeth. These benefit seniors by:
- Letting them feel a sense of independence.
- Allows them to regain their self-confidence and self-esteem.
- They will feel satisfied and fulfilled by starting and finishing an activity on their own.
3. Establish Good and Healthy Habits
The only way to instill good and healthy habits in seniors is through repetition. Create a routine that works for them and tailor it to their preferences. Then, get them to repeat these tasks every day while still guiding them through them.
Also, you can incorporate simple but healthy tasks into their routines so they can effortlessly adapt them into their day. Some healthy habits to instill to your loved one’s routine includes:
- Drinking water before and after mealtimes.
- Brushing their teeth after they wake up and before going to bed. Make it enjoyable by adding music as they go about their day.
- Bathing and toileting.
- A couple of minutes of exercise during the day.
- Eating at a specific set of times and finishing everything on their plate.
Any habits that support a senior’s health are worth turning into a routine. Consider activities that will allow them to discreetly exercise their body, establish a sense of time, or something that can be therapeutic for them. This allows you and your loved one to work in tandem in taking better care of their health.
4. Lowers Anxiety and Stress
Seniors with dementia do not respond agreeably with sudden, unpredictable events or new things introduced to them. This heightens their stress and anxiety levels, causing them to lash out with negative behavior.
Dementia memory care communities want to remove this stress. That’s why they build routines so residents can feel the comfort of familiarity and predictability. Further, it is crucial to stick to the established pattern and follow it as often as possible.
However, schedules change, and disruptions to their routine are expected. It can be due to doctor’s appointments, a change in the senior’s mood, a change in their ability to do the activity, or the disease itself.
When this happens, it’s essential to stay flexible and go with the flow. Do not demand your loved ones to keep the routine if they are resistant to it. Observe what made them agitated and resistant, then alter the practice according to your loved one’s need.
5. It Gives a Sense of Comfort
Over time, your senior loved ones will do their routines with little to no conscious effort, especially if they love a particular activity. They will just do it because they are already used to doing it. Also, it brings them much comfort and relaxation when they finish a task in their routine.
Routines should allow seniors to achieve the five benefits mentioned above. So if a specific activity only gives them stress and anxiety, consider changing it according to their preferences.
Don’t worry. These things take time, and it is a continuous process of trial and error. One moment, your loved one enjoys eating meals on their own, and the next day they won’t. You just have to remain calm and flexible and look for an activity that works for your loved one.
Taking care of a loved one with dementia is a challenging feat that very few people are equipped for. So, it won’t be a failure on your part if you opted to transfer your loved one to the expert and caring hands of the best dementia memory care facilities.