As we get older and age brings with it a variety of different changes, life can begin to feel a little misguided. This rings especially true if your loved one has problems with their memory.
Because of this, ageing adults may feel as if they’re losing the control they once had over their everyday lives, which can be quite a distressing and upsetting experience.
One of the best ways (if not the best) to bring that sense of control back into their lives is by sitting down together and creating a routine which is personalised to their wants and needs.
It doesn’t even need to be seen as something that has to be adhered to 100%, but rather guidelines for how they might like to structure their day. This may also involve highlighting the ‘must-do’ activities such as reviewing and paying bills if any come in the mail that day.
Establishing a routine is not only beneficial for older people, either – it’s also a great way for CAREGivers to create a clear picture of what each day might look like. It can also make time spent together between older New Zealanders and their families better; heading out for a coffee, a meal at their favourite restaurant once a week or participating in their favourite activity.
The biggest benefits to establishing a routine
We’ve already covered how making a routine can bring back a feeling of empowerment in your loved one’s life, but there are a few other stand-out benefits that a structured routine can bring, too.
First, it can help to improve sleep quality. It is said that when you perform life’s basic duties such as eating, bathing, brushing teeth and waking up at the same time every day, this can bring with it a better sleeping pattern. And considering that there are a number of sleep disorders which can impact your health, this may be more important than you think.
Then there’s the fact that a routine which has been printed off in black and white that never changes means your loved one isn’t going to be uncertain or caught off guard about their daily activities. This is important, particularly if they are experiencing cognitive decline or memory issues.
It’s also a great way to get them to look forward to certain activities that are scheduled within their days, improving their mood in the process. For example, if they have a few favourite activities, you could clearly highlight when these occur throughout their schedule so your loved one can get excited for them.
Some top tips to help you on your way
There are a lot of helpful ways to ensure your loved one’s routine is put together in the best possible way. Here are what we believe to be the top tips to creating a routine for older New Zealanders:
- Understand the cans and can’ts. There are certain things that might not be possible for reasons such as not being able to drive or not having full body mobility. By determining what your loved one is and isn’t able to do, you can apply these parameters when creating a routine.
- Prioritise exercise. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour gym session; a 20-30 minute walk each day (even using a mobility aid) can make a big difference to the health of older people. Best to have them check with their GP first to make sure this can be done safely.
- Include their most-loved activities. Doing the things they love to do often helps to transform a routine into something they enjoy following, as each activity prior is building up to something they truly enjoy.
- Set up reminders and put up schedules. We all can be forgetful sometimes. Prevent missed items on a daily to-do list by creating reminders on their phone’s calendar (if they have one) and posting the schedule on the fridge or somewhere they will easily see.
- Don’t force it. You might know about the many benefits of a routine, but if you push it too hard it might become a little overwhelming and stressful for your loved one to handle. Take time to discuss things, and help them to understand how it can help them reclaim their independence.
What a daily routine might look like
Here’s a generic daily routine layout to help you on your way to creating a more personalised routine for your loved one:
8:00am – Wake up
8:10am – Cross yesterday’s date off calendar
8:15am – Prepare and eat breakfast
8:45am – Brush teeth, grooming and other personal hygiene
9:15am – Light stretching exercises
9:30am – Go for a walk
10:00am – Prepare and drink tea
11:00am – Arts and crafts or puzzle project
12:15am – Prepare and eat lunch
1:00pm – Family visit
3:30pm – Reading time
5:00pm – TV quiz shows
6:00pm – Prepare and eat dinner
7:30pm – Have a bath
8:00pm – Brush teeth, grooming and other personal hygiene
8:30 – Movie
10:30 – Go to bed