The coronavirus crisis has upended the lives of millions through the UK. Everyday things we took for granted are now beyond our reach and we are having to take each day as it comes. In the midst of all this chaos it’s more important than ever to establish or maintain a routine both as a carer or for the person you’re caring for.
Now more than ever the comfort of a daily routine can be an effective way of managing dementia within the home. People suffering from memory loss thrive on familiarity, using anything from familiar food to familiar faces as a touchstone to help them feel grounded.
This sense of familiarity is so helpful because of the way dementia gradually impairs a person’s ability to plan, begin and complete an activity. A daily agenda may even help a person with dementia cope with the short-term memory loss that is often one of the first things to be affected by the disease.
If you are just beginning to plan a routine for your loved one, try to include all the things that they enjoy or have taken pleasure in before dementia. Plan in regular meal times, medication, bathing and getting dressed, leisure and exercise. There are many aids that can help a person living with dementia remember when to do things, including large-font reminder clocks and timers and memory calendars.
Once you have established a daily procedure, try and follow it as often as possible. Disruptions in routines can elevate anxiety and make it harder for someone to then get back into a normal schedule once any disruption is over.
Remember – the benefits of following a daily routine can be huge. It reduces stress and anxiety, as everyone knows what’s coming next. It maintains skills and functions – if you are regularly performing an activity it reduces the chances of you forgetting how to do it. And it increases independence: something as simple as putting away the washing up can increase self-esteem and confidence because your loved one can perform it independently. Especially in the earlier stages of dementia when people are more likely to be aware of cognitive deficits, independence in a task can be a great encouragement to them.