Wednesday, January 4, 2017

10 Essential Reasons Dementia Caregivers Need to Follow a Daily Schedule...NOW!

Proven Ways to Manage Boredom, Anxiety and Irritability
 in People with Dementia

For most of us, following a schedule has been the part of everyday life for as long as we can remember.  Parents quickly move into action to help their newborns establish a sleeping schedule. Toddlers thrive on predictability and routines when it comes to eating and napping.  

To prevent problems and unnecessary struggle, parents realize school aged children need schedules for homework, bathing and bedtime. Teens and young adults require schedules in order to keep up with the demands of school, sports and extra curricular activities, not to mention part time jobs. 

Adults of all ages deal with schedules and routines at home and at work. So, why is it then, would we think a schedule isn't important after a diagnosis of dementia?  We wouldn't! It's as important as ever!

Here are ten essential reasons dementia caregivers need to get life under control by following a schedule...starting NOW:

#1:  Schedules makes sure everything gets done
Life for dementia caregivers can be chaotic, but when things are done according to schedule, it's likely nothing is over looked. Write down your plan for the day and put it in a place where it is highly visible. Cross off activities as they are completed so that everyone can enjoy a sense of accomplishment as they get things done.

#2:  Schedules promote predictability and routine
It's not uncommon for a person with dementia to have resistance to showers. Schedules help them anticipate the need to bathe.  By following a daily routine, grooming, hygiene and clothing changes are less of a struggle. "We always get dressed after breakfast." or "Today is Wednesday. You always take a shower on Wednesday."

#3:  Schedules provide structure
Schedules give a framework for planning activities morning, noon and night, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day.  Use enlarged print and simple words to make the schedule. Give just enough detail to explain activities or events that will take place.

#4:  Schedules eliminate guess work
When caregivers create a written schedule or daily agenda, persons with dementia are less anxious about what's going to happen. Because the schedule is posted in a highly visible location, it can serve as a reference throughout the day. It is always assuring to know there is a plan for getting through the day.

#5:  Schedules give us something to look forward to
Be sure to work some fun into your day. Schedules provide an easy way to eliminate struggles and they remind the person with dementia of what's coming next. "We're going to work in the garden just as soon as we clean the kitchen." or "After lunch, we're going to take a nap."  

#6:  Schedules allow variety
Don't just plan to do the same thing every day...variety is the spice of life, so rotate activities throughout the week.  Let's be honest, eventually, everyone gets tired of watching TV.  Mix things up a little to keep everyone looking forward to a new day.

#7:  Schedules decrease undesirable behaviors
You can significantly reduce pacing, wandering and repetitive questioning just by providing structure to your day. Caregivers have fewer behavioral issues to deal with and persons with dementia are calm but engaged.  Additionally, tense situations can often be solved with the redirection of attention: "Hey, look! It's time to start making dinner. I need your help in the kitchen."

#8:  Schedules eliminate boredom
When people are busy, there's no time to be bored.  While there should be some down time built into every day, a schedule of activities keeps activity levels high.  Schedules can reduce undesirable behaviors often associated with boredom such as pacing and wandering. Anger and anxiety are less likely when a person with dementia is engaged in activity.

#9:  Schedules allow creativity
Think outside the box as you plan your days and weeks. Try a new craft or game, work a puzzle, spend some time outside, work on a project or invite a friend over.  Activities that promote creativity are like exercise for the brain, and everyone can benefit from that. Remember, All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.

#10:  Schedules promote as sense of togetherness
No one wants to be an onlooker in life, so have  the person with dementia assist with daily chores such as dusting, folding clothes, stirring and chopping. Being involved in daily activities gives the person with dementia a sense of contribution and purpose.  Because you work on a task together, they feel independent but supported and have the assurance of your presence.

How will you spend your time today?

If you need help planning a daily schedule for a person with dementia, contact the experts at Spontaneous Speech.  We can develop a unique program just for you!  Give us a call at 361-271-1700.  We'll be happy to chat with you or answer any questions you may have.

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You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secrets of your success are found in your daily routine.
John Maxwell