Dementia and the Value of Routine - Parc Provence Memory Care

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    Dementia and the Value of Routine

    Dementia and the Value of Routine

    Man smiling with headphones on

    Living a predictable life can feel restrictive at times for many of us. Nevertheless, most of us build our lives around some kind of daily schedule—going to the same place at the same time for a latte, for example, or having Sunday dinner with family. These habits offer familiarity and reduce the number of decisions we have to make every day. In the same way, routines can provide comfort, security, and reliability to people living with dementia.

    Rationale for Routine

    The human brain stores daily routines as long-term memories. New information and new processes are part of short-term memory, which is the type of memory most often affected by the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As the stages of the disease progress to the middle stages and onward, some people may remember ingrained daily activities and processes longer, even when the concept of time is altered by the disease. Routine helps order the day, offering a sense of stability.

    Because a person with any form of dementia can struggle to learn new ways of doing things, routine helps make daily living less difficult to manage. It helps ease the anxiety and frustration that come with memory loss or the loss of cognitive and physical skills. If you are performing home care for a loved one with dementia, daily routines can help ease the stress and offer you, the dementia caregiver, more opportunities to interact in more open and positive ways.

    Steps for Success

    There are a few key steps to successfully incorporate a daily routine for your family member living with any type of dementia.

    Step 1: Let Personal Interest Act as a Guide.

    Use your loved one’s preferences rather than introducing change. You’ll be more successful if you build a routine that is grounded in your loved one’s personality and preferences.

    Step 2: Consistency Counts

    Try to have mealtimes at the same time each day. Stick to a routine for basic household chores—and encourage your loved one to participate, even if it means re-folding laundry. Offer medications at the same time and in the same way each day. Get up at the same time every day and take care of personal care tasks, such as toileting, dressing, and more. If you’re loved one is living in a memory care community, plan to visit on a regular schedule when possible.

    Step 3: Add Movement

    Regularly build some physical activity into the daily care plan, such as a walk after breakfast or chair yoga every afternoon.

    Step 4: Track Time in New Ways

    Though a true sense of time may diminish, you can signal “morning” or “evening” to the older adult by pulling back the curtains in the morning, turning hall lights on in the evening, setting the table, and running the water for a before-bed bath. These non-verbal cues can help indicate the time of day when verbal abilities diminish.

    Step 5: Add Some Hobbies

    Plan activities that bring joy into their lives. If gardening or crossword puzzles have always been a source of entertainment, include them in the routine. If reading is an important part of life, set aside time to read a favorite book aloud.

    Step 6: Consider Music

    If possible, incorporate singing and dancing. Research shows that singing activates the left side of the brain, and listening to music activates the right side. The tune of a favorite song can trigger strong memories.

    Step 7: Opt for Patience

    As important as routine is, you’ll always have days that require a break in the familiar: a doctor’s appointment or a visit from a neighbor. Flexibility—and a sense of humor—will go a long way for you and your loved one. If you take a walk together after breakfast every day but one day meet resistance, let it go. Lean into your patience; everyone will benefit.

    Learn More About Parc Provence

    Long-term care for Parc Provence residents is built around routine. Our care providers help establish personalized health care plans and schedules that honor preferences, likes, dislikes, interests, and skills. These plans are designed to offer residents a sense of purpose, improved well-being, and the best quality of life.

    If you’d like to learn more from our care team or have questions about our dementia care options, we’d be happy to help. Please call 314-788-3591.