As the body and mind continue to age, daily routines for seniors become more important. Feelings of dependence and loss of control are common in elderly individuals, which can lead to depression. Daily routines can help seniors maintain some independence and control over their everyday activities. Schedules can also help to structure daily care for seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Many people fear uncertainty and the unknown, and older adults are no exception. By developing a daily routine, you limit the chances of surprises. Of course, you can’t control everything, but a consistent routine can help both seniors and caregivers.
Routines for Seniors
Generally, routines help plan certain activities at specified times and remain constant from day-to-day. Daily routines for seniors help ensure that the most important tasks of the day are kept up with, such as taking medications, eating regular and proper meals, and upholding hygiene habits. Light exercise can also be worked into the routine to make sure your senior is being active.
An example of a morning routine could include tasks such as:
- Wake up at a designated time
- Complete hygienic sub-routine (use restroom, brush teeth, comb hair, etc.)
- Eat a nourishing breakfast and take medication
- Take a short walk outside, weather, and mobility permitting.
Benefits of Daily Routines for Seniors
This benefit is especially noted in seniors that suffer from cognitive or physical impairments. Older adults can sometimes feel stressed and anxious about their day. Daily routines for seniors can help eliminate these feelings because they’ll know what’s happening next, how it will be done, and when it will take place. If your senior is fighting memory loss, a schedule might help with retention as most of the activities will be the same each day. The body is also capable of unconsciously learning routine actions, which can limit the amount of conscious effort and worry about what they’re doing.
Daily routines for seniors mean consistency of day-to-day activities. Seniors and caregivers can predict and plan the days, which will make the schedule easy to understand. By keeping a consistent routine it’s likely that your senior will be able to keep up with it, compared to an unstructured day with complete free reign.
Sticking to a set sleep schedule can greatly improve the quality of sleep seniors get. Getting older also causes your circadian rhythm to change, and many seniors struggle with getting enough rest. Having too much activity one day and not enough the next day can result in varied sleep and waking times, which isn’t healthy for the mind or body. Setting sleep and wake times, and maintaining similar levels of activity throughout the day are just a few ways to help elderly adults sleep better.
Independence & Control
Setting daily routines for seniors might seem like independence is being taken away, but it can actually be quite the opposite. If your senior is still capable of carrying out activities with limited assistance, have them write the schedule down. This way, they can refer to that and go through their day independently with less interference.
This might not always be possible, so another way to give seniors more independence and control is to schedule some free time into the day. During this time, they can choose to do whatever they want. Whether they want to play a game, watch TV, or anything else, leave it up to them. Of course, make sure the activity is within reason, but having a say in their schedule is very important to seniors.
Routines for Caregivers
If you are caring for a senior that is following an established routine, it’s important that you respect it as well. Remembering days can be difficult for seniors, so they might not remember that it’s Monday or Tuesday, but they’ll know it’s shower day or shopping day.
If you are providing home care, following a routine can ease some anxiety of having a stranger in their home. They’ll know what to expect and when. You should also take the time to learn how they would like things done to further ease feelings of stress. Here are a few ways to maintain your senior’s routine while in their home:
- Put dishes and other items in the same cabinets
- Enter their home the same way each time (use the same entrance, announce yourself, etc.)
- Try to schedule appointments for the same time of day.
Overall, daily routines for seniors can greatly improve their quality of life. They’ll feel a purpose to their day and want to engage in the activities. Just remember, allow some flexibility and don’t be too restrictive.