For most of us, routines are a key part of our day-to-day lives. Routines are powerful tools that keep us energized, productive, and most importantly – grounded during a stressful time.
Overall, routines are a key component of staying healthy. For people with dementia who have trouble receiving and storing new sensory information, routine and repetition are critical to function.
A model routine includes set times for waking up and going to sleep, regular hygiene practices, consistent eating patterns and other key activities. The effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on daily life has unfortunately disrupted much of our normal routine living. Disrupting the routines of those with dementia creates a lot of stress for someone who cannot track information. The pandemic is already stressful enough to most of us, yet for those suffering with dementia this abundance of stress can lead to an increase in confusion and memory issues. The good news is that this is most often temporary and can stabilize once people get back to a routine.
Ways to help
Here are some recommendations for the best ways to help a loved one with dementia during this time:
Stick to a routine as much as possible.
In all the chaos and confusion of the pandemic, creating structure and routine in your loved one’s life can create an environment that is comforting with clear expectations. One way to implement a clear routine is to have a white board, or a calendar on the wall that includes a plan for the day. You can alter these to reflect new activities to be done throughout the day and week.
Online communication is a valuable tool in times when we may not be able to visit our loved ones face-to-face. From Skype, to Facetime, to Facebook Video calls, there is a great deal of technology that can help you keep in touch with your loved one and fight social isolation.
Beware of negative media.
While online communication can be a good and useful tool for connecting, you must also ensure that your loved ones are not being bombarded by fear and hysteria in the free time they spend online. Exposing your loved one with dementia to too much negative information can have serious effects on their emotional state. While they might not remember the details of newscasts, they hold on to the emotional information. As a result, they may feel increased fear, anxiety and stress, but not understand why.
Engage your loved one with activities, hobbies or listening to music.
Since taking in new information is difficult, focus on reminiscing – talk about past events, trips, other activities that they have done.
Signs to watch
In times of stress, someone with dementia may experience increased confusion or agitation, or may exhibit behavioral changes and act out of character. This is most often only temporary.
However, if you notice some of the following behaviors developing, you should contact your care provider:
- If your loved one is acting out of character or begins putting themself in danger by wandering off or becoming physically aggressive.
- If there are new areas of confusion or new types of behaviors that persist over the course of several days.
We understand these are difficult times, and for our loved ones experiencing memory disorders, it can be even more trying. Remember, we are all in this together. .
NursePartners creates permanent care teams to introduce stability and routine into the lives of older adults. All teams are managed by a registered nurse and certified dementia practitioner. Care is provided right at home, or wherever home may be. Want to learn more about how we can help you? Call us, and ask for Angie, Carole, or Jessica: