Understanding Dementia: How Routine Can Help Those with Memory Loss

Posted By on October 8, 2021

Caring for a parent or family member with dementia can come with unique challenges. Ensuring they are safe, healthy, and mentally stimulated can be overwhelming, especially for those who are new to caregiving or dealing with memory loss. Going into it unprepared can cause confusion and frustration for you and your family member.

Having a daily routine is something that most experts in the dementia community recommend. The familiarity of a routine and structure can benefit both caregivers and those living with a memory impairment, creating a smoother and more successful relationship. 

HarborChase of Prince William Commons, located in Woodbridge, Virginia, offers specialized memory care services to those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. We’re sharing some information on the importance of a routine and how we implement them in our exclusive memory care communities, The Sound and The Cove.

Benefits of Routine in Dementia Caregiving

Reduces Negative Behaviors

Having a daily routine can establish a sense of structure, familiarity, and expectations. These routines can help those with dementia become comfortable with and receptive to their days, reducing unwanted behaviors and reactions like agitation, restlessness, or anger. Knowing what to expect each day can offer them a sense of security and control.

Maintains Functioning & Independence

Incorporating stimulating activities and tasks into the daily schedule can work to enhance motor skills and cognitive functioning. By practicing the task regularly—whether it’s a mental task like doing a puzzle or a physical task like doing the dishes— there is a better chance they will retain those skills as their condition progresses.

Decreases Caregiver Stress

Not having a daily plan can also increase caregiver stress. You might wake up each morning wondering how to fill the hours and create as little conflict and stress as possible. By having a routine, you can organize each day and know what to expect. This can make the days go by more smoothly while creating more moments for enjoyment and connection between you and your family member.

How to Incorporate a Routine into Your Care Plan

When creating a routine for your family member with dementia, there are a few things to keep in mind to be effective and successful.

Include Fun and Necessary Tasks

While you want to include fun and stimulating activities in your daily routine, it’s just as important to have the necessary ones. Set established times for waking, bathing, eating, taking medications, and going to sleep. By knowing that each of these activities will happen at the same time every day, your family member may be less likely to resist or feel stressed. 

In addition to these everyday tasks, be sure to include a set time for creative activities (like drawing or music), physical activities (like a walk or stretches), and social activities (like visiting a friend or attending a church service). 

Give Them Choices

Allowing your family member to make their own decisions regarding their activities can provide them with a sense of purpose and independence. Too many choices can be overwhelming, though, so only offer two or three options for each activity. Choices you can offer include:

  • “Would you like an apple or an orange with breakfast?”
  • “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today?”
  • “Would you rather read a book or listen to music?”

Be Flexible

As much as a routine can offer structure and stability, it shouldn’t be relied upon too much. Sometimes, your family member may not be in the mood or interested in a particular activity. When this happens, don’t try to force it; just be patient and understand and move on to something else. 

In addition, you may have to adjust your routine as your family member’s dementia progresses. For example, you may have to focus more on safety than engagement or more on rest time than activity. However you have to adapt your day, always be sure that your family member is supported and comfortable.  

Memory Care in Woodbridge, Virginia

Sometimes, even if you have a set routine in place, it can become challenging to take care of your family member (and yourself) once their dementia progresses. When this happens, recognizing that you may need support can be crucial in your family member’s overall wellness. 

HarborChase of Prince William Commons offers mild dementia care and dedicated memory care to individuals and families in the Woodbridge, Virginia, area. Our welcoming and secure community provides a comfortable environment that encourages wellness and growth. Our highly trained associates recognize the importance of a daily routine for those with memory loss, and >we fill each day with activities for physical wellness and mental stimulation. Our team also assists with bathing, grooming, medication management, and mealtimes, ensuring that each resident is given the support needed to be successful. 

When caring for someone with dementia or memory loss, each day can present a new challenge, but it can also present a unique opportunity to spend time and connect with your loved one. HarborChase of Prince William Commons supports families and encourages these connections while providing a structured, familiar environment. 

If you think memory care services could benefit your family, we invite you to visit our memory care community in Woodbridge, Virginia.