Daily Care and Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients
Diseases of the mind like Alzheimer’s can be traumatic for both the patient afflicted and those supporting the loved one. Creating daily routines and activities for the patient is an essential component when caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s. Routines will provide a sense of structure and provide a consistent series of brain-stimulating activities for the patient. Predetermined daily plans would also remove the daily pressure from the caregiver to constantly decide the most beneficial daily plan.
To create a beneficial plan, all aspects of the individual must be considered heavily in the process. Daily routines must include flexibility for adjustment to account for the changing desires and abilities of the individual. As time will progress the stages of the disease, the plan must be adjusted accordingly.
5 Factors of a Daily Routine
1. General Likes and Dislikes
Although this consideration seems like common sense, it is important that time is filled with meaningful activities. Activities used as generic space filler will not be an enjoyable or stimulating interaction to the patient. In the same sense, strengths and weaknesses must also be considered. Although a patient might enjoy physical activity, follow physician recommendations for physical activity on an individual basis.
2. Previous Structure of Patient’s Day
To provide a comfortable environment, consider the patient’s previous daily routines. Creating a familiar structure will help normalize the new routine for the patient with bits of familiar activity. Include consistent activities such as house chore times, wake up and bed times, meal times and dressing times. Use these pre-determined times as a skeleton for the day-to-day routine keeping daily living activities consistent throughout each scheduled day.
3. Working with the Time of Day
While scheduling activities, consider the physical mood changes the patient experiences and during which times of day the moods arise. Not only is Alzheimer’s exhausting; it can inflict drastic cognitive changes from lucid to terrifying confusion, especially at night. Intend to schedule stimulating activities during productive enjoyable times of the day. Consider soothing activities to be scheduled during known bad times during the day. Preparing for these times of day will allow the time to pass in a smoother and more manageable way
4. Encouraging Structured Flexibility
Implementing a structure is helpful to create a stimulating and enjoyable day for Alzheimer’s patients. However, daily life is never planned down to the final minute. Leave time and flexibility for spontaneous trips and activities throughout the week. Reorganizing the week for unplanned excursions is important for any individual’s life. Daily routines are created to most effectively help Alzheimer’s patients still enjoy day-to-day living. If spontaneous trips are enjoyable to the individual then, throw the routine out the window!
5. Keeping Care Creative
When deciding on specific activities to fill the schedule, interactive activities such as music and art have been found to be very helpful and enjoyable for Alzheimer’s patients. When choosing music, consider genres the patient enjoyed in younger periods of their life. Familiar music associated with a lucid time period stirs interaction, therefore, encourage clapping, dancing and other movements with the patient. When creating art activities, avoid childish projects and engage with their creative process. Both activities are intended to stir memories and reminiscing through self-expression.
Daily Considerations for Alzheimer's Patients
Creating daily tasks and routines present stimulating goals for patients to work toward every day. However, the actual point of completion is not the focus. It is important to allow the patient to enjoy the time and the process of the tasks rather than the completion of the tasks. While observing the daily activities, offer support and supervision when needed; however, allow space for the patient to properly self-express and interact with the activity.
If the patient happens to repeat a behavior constantly such as fidgeting with their hands, create a go-to activity to transform the repetitive behavior into an activity. Engaging the patient in conversation while performing daily activities will foster an atmosphere of connectedness between the patient, the caregiver, and the schedule prepared by the caregiver.
Place more emphasis on the feelings the patient is expressing. If the patient becomes bored, irritable or disengaged, it may be time to adjust or remove activities. Negative expressions may also indicate the patient is overwhelmed and needs time to rest and revitalize energy. When creating and adjusting daily schedules it is important to keep focus on only the best options for the wellbeing of the patient.