All of us have some fear of the unknown, but for aging seniors still living at home those feelings can sometimes be overwhelming. Studies have found that elderly adults most often worry about losing their physical or mental control, their independence, and being a burden to their families. And, once their mobility and mental acuity start to decline, those worries begin to intensify in a senior’s mind. One of the proven ways to combat those fears is to establish and follow a daily routine, notably when a senior has cognitive impairment from dementia or a stroke. When you’re serving as a caregiver for an at-home senior, establishing a daily routine for them will also benefit you. Here are some ways that keeping a daily routine provides value to seniors and their caregivers.
Benefits of a Daily Routine
Young children do better when following a daily routine, and the same holds true for elderly adults. If your aging loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, forming new memories is difficult, and anything that causes change in their lives, like switching doctors, can literally be terrifying. Structure is the key, and having a daily routine for a senior even without any cognitive impairment simply makes things go smoother. And, it allows you as their caregiver to set up a daily care schedule, which helps when you’re trying to balance your busy life with caregiving. Home care experts point out these benefits to seniors when a daily routine is followed:
- Increased safety and security. When you help a senior control the unknown and unexpected, that results in them feeling more safe and secure. Older people like to plan ahead and predict what’s going to happen during an average day. When those events play out as intended, they feel much safer. Even seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s feel more secure when their days and lives are organized.
- Reduces stress and anxiety. Experiencing the unexpected can stress out a person with cognitive impairment, and the same holds true for a senior who’s mentally sharp but has limited mobility due to a medical condition. In both scenarios, having a predictable daily routine can help them prepare mentally for certain activities throughout the day. And, that will significantly reduce the stress and anxiety they feel.
- Improves overall health. Seniors who worry and feel anxious for prolonged periods of time heal more slowly than others, get sick more often, feel depressed, eat poorly, and experience sleep disorders, including insomnia. Having a set routine, including exercise and a nutritious diet, helps reduce worry, and promotes more restful sleep- all while improving a senior’s overall quality-of-life!
Daily Routine Components
Although following a simple daily routine can significantly benefit your senior’s health and wellbeing, you need to be flexible. For example, there will be days when they aren’t feeling well, or need to attend a special event or activity. There will be other times when you need to take a break or are otherwise unavailable. Coming up with a finalized daily routine also requires some fine-tuning before you get it right, so don’t get frustrated if the first one isn’t working. When putting together a daily schedule, consider these components:
- Waking up and goin