A monthly article brought to you by Senior Services Memory Support Programs
As humans, we are creatures of habit. Whether it’s indulging in a morning cup of coffee or going for a walk around the block after lunch; daily routines provide us with a sense of comfort and control over our sometimes chaotic lifestyles. For people living with dementia and/or cognitive change, routine is even more important. Individuals living with these cognitive changes thrive on familiarity. Whether it be a familiar face, familiar environment, or even a familiar food, anything that is familiar to them can be used as a touchstone.
This comforting sense of familiarity is supportive because as dementia progresses, the individual’s ability to plan, initiate and complete an activity will decrease. This is also known as apathy. However, a predictable routine can assist a person with awareness to the time of day and provide helpful orientation to them. An established pattern of events can transfer the individual’s schedule and daily routine into their long term memory. This can help the individual maintain their abilities to perform activities of daily living in the early to middle stages.
How to Get Started and Stick With It:
- Tailor the routine to the specific individual. This should include the person’s preferences, likes and dislikes. Consider items such as reading the paper, daily walks/exercise, meal times/preparations, religious activities, social activities with friends and family, and sleep habits/hygiene.
Set the plan in motion and stick to it! Disruptions to a routine can have a negative impact on the individual.
- Try to follow the motto, “Blessed are the flexible, they don’t get bent out of shape!” This mindset can allow you to keep the routine in the forefront of your mind, but allows for deviations based on the individual and other circumstances that may arise. It is important to be mindful that as the individuals dementia progresses, the routine will need to be altered to better accommodate their current abilities. This process is trial and error. What works today, may not work tomorrow.
- By assisting in creating and maintaining a sense of normalcy for the person living with cognitive change, there will be great benefit; not only to the individual, but for you as a care partner as well.
When you start to notice memory changes, seeking early detection is key. Senior Services offers an array of memory support programs including confidential memory screenings to obtain a cognitive baseline, early memory loss programs, and educational classes along with support from Seasons Adult Day Health Services. If you or someone you know is experiencing increasing changes with their memory and could benefit from additional services, please contact Amy Sheridan, Family Support and Activity Manager at 989-633-3764.
Check out our section, Our Mind Matters, next month as we discuss apathy.