Daily routines can be tremendously helpful and comforting for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. They can also make life a bit easier for the caregiver as well. If you’re a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, creating a daily routine can relieve a lot of pressure from not having to worry about what to do every day. Here are a few things to consider when deciding how to develop a daily routine for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Take Their Personality Into Account
We’re all different, and we all have our own ways of doing things. Think back to before your family member was diagnosed with the disease. Did they have an original routine that fit their personality? For example, did they always start their day with a cup of coffee and the newspaper? Or perhaps they enjoyed a breakfast of eggs and toast, followed by a stroll in their neighborhood?
Whatever “routine” they had, try to incorporate some of it into their new routine post-diagnosis. You may have to modify parts to fit their current abilities, such as instead of them reading the paper themselves, you may have to read it to them or take them for a shorter walk around the block.
Keep Agitation and Anxiety in Check
Having a daily routine should help curb the agitation that some people with dementia experience. Unfortunately, however, it’s not uncommon for patients to become frustrated and irritable. The disease often makes people afraid or nervous because of the unknown or the uncertainty created by the lack of memory. If you’re loved one is nonverbal, look for signs that they are bored, agitated, or not comfortable. Adjust activities accordingly that fit their mood. If they are restless, move on to a new activity. In addition to keeping a routine, ensure that the routine is consistent regarding people and places. This should also help to lessen bouts of agitation.
Plan for Help
As a caregiver, you’re just one person. You can’t be in all places at once, and you can’t stop living your life. Therefore, it’s important to think about your own schedule when creating a daily routine for someone with Alzheimer’s. Being a caregiver is a demanding role. Consider having a designated day or time where you enlist someone else’s help and get a much-needed worry-free break. It’s a good idea to include this in the daily or weekly routine so your loved one becomes familiar with having another face helping them.
Put Your Routine On Paper
Sure, we all have daily, weekly, and maybe even monthly routines that we keep, but we don’t necessarily need to write them down. But for someone with Alzheimer’s, it’s a good thing to get into the habit of doing. Creating a daily routine for someone with Alzheimer’s and putting it down on paper so everyone can see it can help you stick to the routine better. It’s easy to forget an activity here or there or even a medication you have to make up for later in the day. But if everything is listed, then it is as easy as checking things off a list. It may seem a bit repetitive, but it has been shown to help patients with cognitive impairment.
Reset Expectations and Be Flexible
Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a vicious disease. Sadly, when the disease progresses, it can make sticking to a daily routine a bit challenging and frustrating for the one suffering as well as the caregiver. You, as the caregiver, need to be honest with yourself in addition to being flexible. There will be days when your loved one won’t be able to do some of the activities they once were able to do. You will have to accept that and move right along. However, there will also be days where you will have to push your loved one and other days where you will be flexible and accommodate their mood and desires. That might mean letting them take a nap instead of going for that walk.
You’re Not Alone
Creating a daily routine for someone with Alzheimer’s isn’t always an easy task. Fortunately, though, once it’s created and you’re able to establish and stick to that routine, it will make your life, and your loved one’s so much easier and happier. If you’re a caregiver and need some support, find a support group in your area. Talking with people in similar situations can help you sort through your feelings and continue doing what’s best for you and your loved one.