It’s that time of year when students are back in school, teachers return to work, and the oppressive heat of summer is beginning to fade signaling the beginning of fall. Back to school means back to a routine. But going back to school has far greater effects than on just students and teachers. As parents and children scramble to get back into a routine, the entire family unit is affected. Even for seniors who live alone, the talk of change in the media, changes in traffic, weather, and changing schedules in the world around them has an impact. And then there are some seniors who struggle to maintain a routine due to physical or mental limitations.
Routine is more than convenience. It provides a sense of structure and familiarity – a way of organizing one’s life so that it makes sense. With routine, comes a sense of ownership, order, and organization of one’s life. Routine is even more critical for someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and cannot easily navigate the task of planning and completing basic activities. Without the security of the familiar, seniors can become anxious, irritable, or depressed.
There is even evidence that routine helps seniors to cope with the frustration, fear, and sadness that occurs during memory loss by easing confusion. This in part is due to what’s called body memory. The body takes over doing what is habitual without requiring much thought.
According to Holly Hart, L.V.N., director of residential health services at Claremont Manor, a CCRC in Claremont, California, “Familiar faces, a familiar environment, even familiar food—anything they can use as a touchstone is critical in establishing a predictable pattern of events that can help transfer the schedule of a daily routine into the long-term memory portion of the brain.”*
Not only is routine important for the senior, it is also helpful for the caregiver. Instead of having to instruct their client on the next activity and face potentially agitating them, everyone is on the same page. This routine, or plan, should be understood and/or completed and documented by the home care agency during the Care Consultation before care ever begins.
Below are some things to consider when creating a daily activity plan:
- Likes and dislikes, strengths, abilities interests
- Past routines in his/her day – including times for waking & going to bed
- What time of day the individual works best (for example, those with sundowners may want to avoid challenging evening tasks.)
- Ample time for activities – bathing, dressing, mealtimes, etc.
- Interferences from medications, treatments or therapies that may leave them overly tired.
- Always add in some cushion time with each activity to avoid moving too fast and agitating the individual
Daily plan example (for early- to middle-stages of the disease) Many of these activities are encouraged through our Acti-Vate™ program. Please contact your local Acti-Kare location for more information.
|– Wash, brush teeth, get dressed
– Prepare and eat breakfast (Acti-Vate™)
– Have coffee, make conversation
– Discuss the newspaper, try a craft project, reminisce about old photos (Acti-Vate™)
– Take a break, have some quiet time
– Do some chores together
– Take a walk, play an active game (Acti-Vate™)
|– Prepare and eat lunch, read mail, wash dishes
– Listen to music, do crossword puzzles, watch TV (Acti-Vate™)
– Do some gardening, take a walk, visit a friend (Acti-Vate™)
– Take a short break or nap
|– Prepare and eat dinner, clean up the kitchen
– Reminisce over coffee and dessert (Acti-Vate™)
– Play cards, watch a movie, give a massage (Acti-Vate™)
– Take a bath, get ready for bed, read a book
Botek, Anne-Marie. Why a Daily Routine is Helpful for People with Dementia. Retrieved from: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/daily-routine-for-people-with-dementia-156855.htm
Creating a Plan. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-creating-a-plan.asp