Education and Care - Daily Routines

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Daily routines are sacred for most people. When caring for individuals with dementia, sticking to a routine is not only sacred, but a necessity.

Since change is difficult for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, a structured schedule can meet two objectives: relieving caregiver stress and helping individuals maintain their abilities.

Consider this:
  • Involve the individual in daily tasks. Disrupting his usual habits may result in an inability to perform that activity. For example, if you begin dressing him, he might soon forget how to dress himself. Participation also helps to maintain the person's self-esteem.
  • Be realistic about what the individual can do given his degree of impairment. This will result in less frustration on both your parts.
  • "Bathing" should follow the individual's routine prior to onset of the disease unless specific hygiene needs arise. If they previously showered in the evening, they should continue that pattern. However, keep in mind that changes may be necessary due to the progression of the disease. For example, someone who normally bathes at night might have to switch to the morning if they wake up soiled or if they are experiencing "sundowning"," or behavioral problems toward evening.
  • Repeating the same act may be meaningful for the individual and provide relief of tension. For example, he may spend 20 minutes tearing a tissue or wiping the kitchen counter. If the activity does not seem to be upsetting him, let him continue. If it upsets you, try to gently redirect his activity by giving him something else to do.
  • Be consistent. If you say that you are going to do something, follow through with it.

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