For people living with dementia, a consistent routine will help them to know what to expect and to be orientated to time, date and place. During these times of change, loss and uncertainty all of us will benefit from having a consistent routine that incorporates meaningful activities chosen to enhance and promote our health and well-being.
Here are a few considerations to help you maintain a consistent routine and ensure that all your needs are being met:
- Consider your old routine. Where are the gaps now that you cannot participate out of the house? How can you adapt those activities to do at home so that you get the same benefit?
- Write your routine down. Structured days are good for people living with dementia and can make the task of filling the time in a day less overwhelming if time has already been delegated to different activities.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
- Make sure that, as well as incorporating purposeful, physical, entertaining and social activities, you are giving yourself time to rest and relax. Balancing activities throughout the day is key.
- When planning a daily schedule of activities, consider the person living with dementia’s abilities and energy levels at different times of the day. If the person is restless after lunch, perhaps try a physical activity. If the person feels anxious later in the afternoon, try an activity that reduces stress and allows them to rest.
- Continually assess your routine. You can readjust your daily routine to make it work better for you. If you find a new activity that you enjoy, add it more frequently. If doing physical activity in the morning is challenging, try a different time of the day.
- Try to balance activities that are meaningful for you and the person living with dementia. If the person with dementia does not see the benefit in going for a walk, ask them to accompany you to keep you company. They may disagree that they need exercise but may find keeping you company very meaningful. Alternatively, if the person loves to look at old family videos and reminisce about the past, spend some time with them even if this is repetitive for you. This can create a meaningful experience for the person living with dementia.
We have been asked to stay home to keep ourselves and others safe. For most of us, that means we have hours in each day to fill that were previously occupied by another activity, and in an effort to find ways to pass the time at home and maintain well-being, many people are looking for inspiration and strategies to create more meaningful activity in their days.
Activities are much more than just a way to occupy time; they provide an opportunity for meaningful experiences. Accomplishing a task and knowing we did something to contribute provides a sense of purpose to our days. These activities could include things like washing the dishes, cleaning the windows, or folding towels. It is important that the person living with dementia is tasked with activities that match their abilities to ensure success and create a sense of accomplishment.
- Do tasks around the house together – if the person living with dementia is struggling to do the laundry, do it together or ask them to do a specific stage such as folding the clothes. If cleaning the bathroom is too complicated, ask the person to clean the mirrors while you clean the sinks and toilet.
- Make a to-do list together and cross the items off as you complete them. This is a visual reminder of the contributions made and a job well done. Make your to-do list realistic and doable so that it sets everybody up for success and you both feel good at the end of the day. You can always make a new list tomorrow.
- Let the person you live with know that you appreciate all that they do to contribute. This applies to everyone. We all have a need to have purpose and feel appreciated and you can give that to each other while you stay at home.