Dementia is a common disease among older adults, but this in no way lessens the associated struggles. One of the best ways to preserve memory is to create a consistent daily routine full of cognitive activities. Incorporating structure and stability into a consistent daily routine will help mitigate potential memory loss.
Creating a stimulating yet familiar routine is a great first step. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s do well with a tailored care plan centered around familiar activities, friends, and interests. We’ve created an example plan with explanations of each part of the routine in hopes of providing a guide, but each part of your day should be personalized.
Brush teeth, bathe, and eat breakfast: Maintaining hygiene is an important part of self-esteem and self-care; starting the day off with these familiar daily rituals can help keep you grounded. If there are specific smells that you like, getting hygiene products like body wash in familiar scents can evoke warm emotions. For breakfast, making your favorite foods or foods you associate with specific memories can act as memory preservation. Throughout the day, incorporating your life and memories of your loved ones into ordinary activities will do wonders in stimulating the brain.
Read, watch the news, exercise, and take medications (if necessary): Reading and watching the news is a good way for those with dementia to stay familiar with the present. If you often feel left behind by the busy world of today, keeping up with current events can ease that stress. Reading, too, can bring back happy memories and can help maintain focus. Light exercise is beneficial as well.
Lunch, cognitive activity, and bathroom: Lunch is a great time to incorporate memory exercises. Making your favorite foods or one that holds some nostalgia helps to recall memories and make new ones at the same time. If you’re able to do so, cooking a meal will give you a sense of accomplishment. After lunch, adding a cognitive activity to your routine will provide some mental exercise and avoid boredom. There are many different options, from puzzles to word games. As long as you’re using your cognitive processes, then the activity is doing its job!
Medication, nap, and play music in the background: The early afternoon is a good time to rest, but you can also incorporate memory recall. Before you nap, play music from your favorite movies or artists, or make a playlist of songs that hold significance for you. This will help continually exercise the memory recall functions in your brain, even while resting.
Dinner, wash dishes, reminisce over photos: Just like lunch, dinnertime is another opportunity for memory recall. But, as the day winds down, finish dinnertime with a reminiscence activity. Find some photo albums or scrapbooks with photos from your favorite memories and share them with your loved ones! Recalling the stories behind each photo is a great way to reinforce their memories and bond with their audience.
Watch favorite TV shows, take medications (if needed), and get ready for bed: At bedtime, put on a comforting show. Finishing the day on a high note will make every day a good one!
With a routine, every day will be both consistent and fulfilling.
For some additional resources on routine and schedules in dementia care, check out these articles: