Creating a Daily Routine for a Person with Dementia

Routine for dementia care
Routine and familiarity help people with dementia move smoothly through the day. Create a schedule that works for your caree.

 

 

People who have memory loss thrive on routine. It is comforting to them to have familiarity in their day-to-day, particularly as they begin to lose their ability to plan. Having a routine also can prevent a person with dementia from getting distracted and forgetting what they were doing.

 

While you may not thrive on a structured schedule, creating one for your loved one who has dementia is essential for helping them move through the day with ease. The activities don’t need to be all centered around memory care. Just performing daily activities helps someone with dementia retain their abilities for as long as possible. Once they’ve forgotten how to do something, they are unable to re-learn it, so encourage as much independence as possible.

 

Before you set up your schedule, take a few things into consideration:

  • The person’s likes, dislikes, strengths, abilities and interests
  • How he/she previously structured his/her day
  • What are the best times of day for certain activities
  • Provide ample time for meals, bathing and dressing

 

I’ve created a DementiaWeeklySchedule routine that you can download for free or you can create your own schedule that you post in the house for them to be able to follow. Posting a schedule in a highly visible spot will help your caree anticipate what is coming next. You can also give them a head’s up before an activity change if they have a hard time transitioning.

 

To make this general, I left off activities that may not be daily, such as bathing and social activities. There are also activities that your caree may enjoy that you’ll want to incorporate in their schedule.

 

For example, I had a client who enjoyed going to the gym. His wife set up a workout with a trainer three times per week for him. He enjoyed his time at the gym and it gave her a chance to relax as well. I also had a client who enjoyed singing so her daughter set her up with a chorus that met weekly and a different client who used to be a folk dancer so we found her a senior folk dancing group to join. The key is to ensure that the group will be welcoming and if you aren’t staying in the room that the teacher will ensure that your caree doesn’t leave the room until his/her ride arrives.

 

 

Morning Routine:

These are the basic activities that need to be accomplished each day, regardless of the day.

  • Wake up
  • Hygiene/personal care
  • Prepare breakfast/coffee
  • Eat breakfast together
  • Clean up

 

Morning Activity:

Depending on your caree’s previous interests, you can pick and choose what to do, but here are some activities that are well-received by people with dementia.

  • Take a walk
  • Work in the garden
  • Listen to music (their preference of music, not yours). Music has been known to shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions and coordinate motor movements.
  • Run an errand together – grocery stores and shopping centers will be less crowded mid-morning on a weekday, so it would be a great opportunity to do something that your parent used to do in the past and enjoyed.
  • Do chores together – while it doesn’t seem like something fun to do, chores are routine activities that your caree likely did throughout his/her adult life. Some possible activities include folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping floors or dusting furniture.
  • Quiet/rest time

 

Lunch Routine:

Encourage your caree to participate in preparing lunch to the best of his/her ability. Are you making a salad? They can wash the produce, assemble the produce in the bowl and depending on ability, chop vegetables. If you are making sandwiches, you can both work together to make your sandwiches.

  • Prepare lunch together
  • Sit and eat together. This is another great opportunity to play music that your caree enjoys.
  • Clear the table and clean up together

 

Afternoon/Early evening activities:

  • Nap/quiet time – After lunch is a great time to slow down and either nap or have some quiet time. A little self-care tip for you – don’t use this time to get a bunch of stuff done. Take this time to relax as well.
  • Creative activities – This is a great time to incorporate art or creative activities in the day. There are a host of adult coloring books that are beautiful and engaging. You can also encourage him/her to draw independently or create a photo collage using old pictures or pictures from a magazine.
  • Intellectual activities – If your caree is able, reading, word search puzzles or even doing picture puzzles are great activities to keep their mind as sharp as possible. You can also engage them in sorting activities if puzzles are too challenging.
  • Play games together – play cards or board games together. It isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about maintaining abilities.
  • Take another walk

 

Dinner activities:

Like with lunch, encourage your caree to help prepare dinner with you. It may take longer to get things done so you’ll want to start early so you don’t have to rush and he/she doesn’t get frustrated. You don’t need to make a gourmet meal; simple meals are fine, unless cooking is actually a stress relief for you (lucky!).

  • Prepare dinner together
  • Dine together
  • Clean up together
  • Engage in a quiet relaxing activity such as reading, looking at photography or watching a movie together.

 

Bedtime Routine:

  • Personal care/hygiene
  • Dress for bed
  • Bedtime rituals – if your parent had a bedtime ritual like reading or praying, encourage him/her to continue doing the ritual.

 

To make this general, I left off activities that may not be daily, such as bathing and social activities. There are also activities that your caree may enjoy that you’ll want to incorporate in their schedule.

 

For example, I had a client who enjoyed going to the gym. His wife set up a workout with a trainer three times per week for him. He enjoyed his time at the gym and it gave her a chance to relax as well. I also had a client who enjoyed singing so her daughter set her up with a chorus that met weekly and a different client who used to be a folk dancer so we found her a senior folk dancing group to join. The key is to ensure that the group will be welcoming and if you aren’t staying in the room that the teacher will ensure that your caree doesn’t leave the room until his/her ride arrives.

 

If you have adult day are in your community, you may want to consider utilizing it 2 – 3 times per week. It is a great way for you to get a break and they have wonderful programming that is engaging and stimulating.

 

What types of activities does your caree enjoy?

 

 

 

 

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