Caring for a person with dementia has become increasingly common in Australia. Dementia is a condition that affects over 400,000 people in the country, and over 70% of dementia cases are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

While caring for someone with this condition may not be easy, establishing a routine for the patient has proven helpful in a few ways. This article looks at how routines can benefit a person with dementia and how you can implement routines the right way.

Why routine is important

Patients living with dementia can become increasingly frustrated as they lose their cognitive and physical abilities. It is a scary and confusing time for patients because they don’t understand what’s happening to their minds and body.

Routines can help them face the day with a greater sense of peace and security, reducing their agitation and aggressive behaviours. Studies show that dementia patients who experience no disruption in their lives exhibit positive and constructive behaviour. Meanwhile, disruption has shown to be harmful to the patient and the carer as well. Hence, establishing routines minimises any sense of interruption felt by dementia patients and allows the carer to continue providing good care.

Besides that, daily routines can also reduce stress and anxiety. At its core, routines allow dementia patients to have predictability and control over their lives. Studies show that dementia patients suffer from an altered sense of time, which may make them feel overwhelmed. Patients that suffer from memory loss thrive on familiarities, such as a familiar face, environment, and routine. This reduces overall stress felt by the patient and the carer.

By establishing a predictable pattern in their day, carers could help transfer the memory of daily routine into a permanent memory for the patient. This may then help the dementia patient retain their ability to perform daily life activities, like brushing their teeth or fixing a snack.

However, establishing a routine does take a significant effort from the carer. Studies show that as a patient loses their cognitive and functional skills, carers must also step up their care practices when establishing a routine.

So how can carers help create routines the right way? We discuss some handy tips in the next section. 

Tips for developing a daily routine

When developing a routine for a loved one with dementia, the main goal is to keep it relaxed, flexible, and valuable to them. Here are some of our best practices.

Create simple routines

A routine shouldn’t be too difficult to follow. Try making routines as easy as possible so that the dementia patient can follow them without much stress or agitation. For example, when asking a dementia patient to get dressed, you could ensure that the closet is visibly organised in a way that’s accessible.

Stay flexible

A routine shouldn’t be set in stone. It should be adjusted to suit the patient’s moods and capabilities for the day. As the patient’s cognitive skills decline, you may find that they cannot perform some routines as they normally would. Do not be disheartened by this, but adapt the routine to suit what they can do.

Tailor routines to what they like

If there is a particular task which your loved one prefers to do, then it’s important to stick with that. Sticking to routines that they love improves their overall mood and helps them perform tasks that they’ve been doing all their lives.

Involve them in household tasks

While it may be tempting to keep a dementia patient resting, you should allow them to help with menial housework such as folding the clothes and vacuuming. Doing this will help retain their cognitive skills as they develop these tasks as a routine.

Don’t skip exercises!

Physical activity and light exercise can elevate a dementia patient’s mood and provide them with a better quality of life. Ideally, walking and aerobics are great exercises as they are not overly strenuous. The Better Health Channel by the Victorian government has some great examples of how you can implement exercise as a routine. 

Implementing a routine for dementia patients takes a great deal of skills and patience. If you require any assistance with home care for your loved one, the team at CareAbout can provide you with the support you need to apply for a Home Care package. Talk to us today for a FREE, personalised discussion on your needs.