Why are routines so important for people living with dementia? Advice from a care at home agency

Why are routines so important for people living with dementia? Advice from a care at home agency

Carer helping with shopping


Throughout our lives, we stick to routines, whether it be the routine of going to school, going to work or a simple routine within your household. Personal routines provide us with a sense of control in what can be busy lives. A dementia diagnosis does not remove this feeling of control or the need for routine. In fact, the time after a dementia diagnosis is often a pivotal time to put a routine in place because adapting long-standing habits can help keep the person stay calm and focussed.

As a care at home agency, we can help you and your loved one implement a routine that will be long lasting and enable your loved one to stay at home for as long as possible with as little or much supervision needed.

in-home care

Why are routines so important for those living with dementia?

Those living with dementia often do well with things that are familiar. This includes familiar daily routines and familiar faces around them.

Dementia often impacts someone’s memory, especially their short term memory and learning ability. These are usually the first cognitive  processes affected by the disease but habits that are deeply ingrained in the brain are, more often than not, the last memories to be lost. This means that any habits and routines that are built up in 

their long term memory are likely to stay there longer. The daily repetition of these lifelong routines can prevent someone living with dementia from becoming anxious and frustrated.

Of course as their dementia develops, their care will need to change, therefore changing their routine slightly. However, it is important to try and keep core elements, such as eating times and bedtimes, the same.

Why is a routine important for the carer?

A routine can also be important for the carer of someone with dementia too.

Not only will it allow them to plan their day around the care needed, but if the person living with dementia is able to complete tasks with few prompts and less supervision, the carer is less likely to be confronted by challenging behaviours that are associated with dementia such as agitation, and outbursts that are often the result of being confused or frustrated by the situation.

How to include a daily routine in dementia care

There are a few things that should be considered when putting together a care plan and routine for a loved one with dementia. As a care at home agency we will help you think about these and make sure we action them within any care plans that we create with you and your loved one.

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Include hobbies and preferences

Each dementia care plan and routine should be tailored to the dementia patient. So, when you are creating a new plan or routine for your loved one with dementia you should remember their preferences and past activities. Try and implement them into the new care plan and routine as much as possible. Something simple like keeping their washing day on the same day can have a really big effect on how they feel and cope. It will give them a sense of time and day, which will help keep them calm as they start to lose more and more control over what they do and when they do it.

To do this, we recommend that you start by mapping out what a normal day might have looked like for your loved one. Make sure that in doing this you don’t just include the mundane day to day activities such as getting out of bed and making breakfast, but you also include their leisure activities, maybe they go out for a lunchtime walk or there is a TV programme that they enjoy watching on a specific day of the week.

As a care at home agency, we will learn about your loved ones past activities and habits before creating a care plan. We will use these daily habits and preferences to build a care plan around them so that your loved one can keep their routines and not lose what they are familiar with. We will also build in new coping mechanisms to encourage your loved one to independently continue with, and remain in control of certain activities. This could be by adding labels to drawers so that they can get dressed on their own, or labelling cupboards in the kitchen so that they can cook for themselves for a little longer.

Helping a service user upstairs

Break up the challenging with the nice

Intertwine the enjoyable tasks with the not so enjoyable ones. This will help break the day up for both yourself as the carer and your loved one.

If your loved one functions better at a certain time of the day, then make use of that. Schedule the most demanding task for these times as they are more likely to be able to cope with them when they have the energy and attention span for them. 

Be sure to allow for lots of rest time after the task though to help them to recuperate their energy levels again.

This is something Burley’s Home Care will help you plan and incorporate into your care plan for your loved one.

As home care providers, we can also assist you with these more difficult tasks. Our carers are fully trained to assist with any morning or evening routines which can include getting your loved one out of bed and personal hygiene routines, attending any groups or classes that they still enjoy, assistance with taking medication, or helping with housework and cooking.

Remain flexible

While routine is important, so is flexibility. Disruptions are a part of life, from doctors appointments, to illnesses and changes in moods and cognition can quickly derail a plan that has been carefully put together.

With disruption, it is likely that your loved one will feel anxious and disoriented and they may struggle to get straight back into their routine. In times like this, it is important to be flexible, and go with the flow. Don’t force your loved one to do something as this is likely to end with them acting out in frustration.

Try and learn signs that they are agitated so that you can slow down and help them before they become too frustrated or uncomfortable. Have backup plans so that you can quickly adapt your plan to suit them and their immediate needs. You might find that the back up plan becomes a new routine for you both that works out much better.

Our dementia carers can be flexible and suit yours and your loved ones needs. While we will always try to keep to agreed hours, we are happy to adjust them as needed, just as we are happy to adjust the assistance we provide when with you.

Paul with his live in carer

Interested in dementia care at home?

If you are looking for support with a loved one living with dementia, get in touch with our care at home agency. We are proud to be part of the Dementia Friends initiative, which means our staff have been trained by experts from the Alzheimer’s Society in dementia awareness and support.

Very helpful and professional. Burley Home Care can be relied upon to do exactly as agreed in the care plan. My mother looks forward to the care visits from the girls. I am also kept informed of all aspects of the care being provided. They go above and beyond the call of duty!

We can provide 30 minute home care visits, or 1 hour visits in which we will support your loved one based on their personalised dementia home care plan.

Before any care plan is put in place, we will get to know you and your loved one and their preferences so that we can match you with a carer and incorporate those all important routines into the care plan we put together.

Learn more about our dementia home care by calling your local office:

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