Benefits of a Routine
Routines offer benefits to everyone, but how much of an impact can a routine (or lack thereof) have on our aging population? As physical and cognitive demands increase so does the need for consistency. A consistent routine improves muscle memory, provides a feeling of safety, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves sleep.
Seniors can get upset or unpleasantly surprised by changes, causing them to feel as if they have no say in their lives. They also may feel as if they are a burden to those around them. Seniors may experience feelings of anxiousness when they do not know what's to come, or they may become depressed and lose their sense of purpose.
Having a routine in place helps restore dignity and encourages seniors to regain that sense of purpose again. Limiting inconsistencies diminishes the chaos that they may feel affects them and those around them. Plus, less stress and anxiety allows for a more peaceful and uninterrupted sleep which benefits overall health.
The do's and don't's of creating a routine with the senior in your life:
Include them in the process. Find out what their personal goals are for the day/week and be sure to include those. Include any of their favorite activities/hobbies. Routines need to be customized to their desires.
Do not dictate. There maybe be some items that have to be done (such as Physical Therapy exercises) that they may not be excited about. You do want to include those, but don't dictate the entire routine. Let them have some say, such as what time of day.
Communicate with others. A lot of times more than one person will be involved in the care. Make sure to talk with all those involved to get input and make sure plans stay consistent.
Have separate routines for each person who is helping with care.
Display the schedule/routine. This is a great way to communicate with others, but it is especially great for seniors to be able to see what they will be doing. Make alterations, if parts of the routine need adjustment, do so accordingly
Try not to make many changes at once. When adjustments are needed, discuss them and try to incorporate one thing at a time.
While a consistent routine does have a big impact, don't become too rigid. Be realistic, there will be days things will have to change suddenly due to weather, illness, or other unforeseen circumstances. Try your best to do things as close to the same time everyday, and when you do get thrown off track due to unexpected circumstances, just get back on as soon as you can again.
What are some things you can include on a daily schedule?
Personal care- Brush teeth, wash, get dressed
Prepare breakfast and eat
Morning activity- take a walk, exercise, do a craft, shop, garden, do chores, visit a friend, go on an outing
Quiet break time- read the newspaper, listen to music, enjoy a cup of coffee, nap
Prepare lunch and eat
Listen to music, watch a movie, do a puzzle
Afternoon activity- take a walk, exercise, do a craft, shop, garden, do chores, visit a friend, go on an outing
Quiet break time
Prepare dinner and eat
Clean kitchen and dishes
Have a conversation over dessert
Play a game, watch tv, do a puzzle
Personal care- bath, brush teeth, prepare for bed
Read a book
Questions to ask while determining the routine:
Does the routine have too much or too little activity?
Which type of activities worked the best?
What time of the day does the senior function the best?
What activities do you like to do together?
Tip: The goal of a daily schedule is not to pack it full with activity every minute. Prioritize the goals for each day