The Power of a Daily Schedule for Your Loved One
May 3, 2017 - 4:42:22 PM
Regular schedules benefit caregivers as well - as their own bodies commit even the slightest repeated actions to memory, they are able to manage caregiving duties and rely on their own senses and memory for success.
Benefits of a Daily Schedule
Predictability and familiarity are great friends to a person with dementia and memory loss. Experts suggest that actions and tasks repeated day after day help people translate that routine schedule to long term memory. This in turn:
Reduces agitation and confusion: The frustration that comes with feeling as though every action is “new” or “surprising” is diminished when your loved one knows what to expect and has even planned it out themselves.
Provides a sense of control and planning: Empowering your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s isn’t easy, but little things like remembering themselves that it is time to brush their teeth or eat breakfast can make a huge difference in boosting their spirit.
Allows more time for meaningful activities: Without struggling to figure out “what to do next,” you will find more time for meaningful engagement with your loved one. A daily schedule with flexible windows for spending time together has mother and daughter, for example, instead of patient and caregiver, is vital to quality of life for both parties.
Encourages staying active: A fixed pattern of activities for the day helps your loved one prioritize staying active and exercising. Simply adding a daily 20 minute walk at a specific time each morning, or writing in daily stretching and yoga into the schedule is massively beneficial for their overall health and can even stem some of the memory loss they are experiencing.
Gives relief and improves mood: A reduction in stress and anxiety spells out relief for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and will boost their overall mood and feelings of positivity too.
Daily Schedule Reminders
A schedule that benefits your loved one must truly be tailored to their needs, strengths, mobility level, interests, and dislikes. Daily events that can easily be scheduled include times for:
Waking and going to bed
Getting dressed in a routine sequence
Preparing and eating meals
Brushing hair and teeth
On good days, encourage your loved one to choose a nostalgic free-time activity which they would enjoy, i.e. planting flowers or going shopping. Experts agree that incorporating as many routine activities from your loved one’s “pre-dementia” days into their new schedule is beneficial to their overall success as well. If your loved one enjoyed reading or doing puzzles, set up a specific time each day for them to do a crossword or read the paper. If they loved listening to music, play songs from their younger days or show them Youtube videos of old concerts by their favorite artists.
What if my loved one is in a facility?
If your aging parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s is being cared for in a facility or nursing home, there are typically structured schedules in place already for daily activities, meals, dosings, etc. As a caregiver, however, you can still incorporate consistency with your visits by keeping them regular and reintroducing pre-disease activities and things that help your loved one feel in control. For example, each you visit your loved one, bring flowers or a bar of their favorite chocolate they used to eat. The repeated visit with a specific item or action attached to it may stimulate your loved one’s brain function to connect Sundays with your visit, giving them a sense of control and satisfaction in remembering what day of the week it is.
As dementia and Alzheimer’s progress, deteriorating mental function will implore you to adjust the schedule, and explore new “best times” and activities that meet your loved ones new needs. Feelings of shame over their circumstances and a fear of being left alone that accompanies the progression of the disease invites outbursts, fidgeting, and threatening behavior. A fixed routine may take exploration and experimentation, but its benefits will definitely resonate with you and your loved one, one day at a time.