#1 reason that ROUTINE is going to save you a lot of dementia-related drama

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Routine. It’s about what you do regularly, probably every day, even if you aren’t consciously thinking about it. 

Routine is essential when you’re caring for someone with dementia. Not only is it just about what you do, it’s about what they used to do. What does that mean? 

It means that we need to rely on prior knowledge about the person with dementia to help us establish a positive, successful routine. What they do NOW may not be exactly what they used to do, and the person with dementia is, as we know, usually pulling from the PAST for information about their current life.

And you may be thinking, “Well, duh!” but, really, consider this: in order to really assist someone with dementia, you need to know them as an individual. 

My favorite example is this: if you’ve been taking a shower in the morning for the last forty years, and then someone shows up at your house to assist you with a nighttime bath…is that going to throw off your whole day? Yeah it is! You’re going to be grumpy, frustrated, and probably confused.

Many people with dementia are unable to say, “Hey, I’ve been a morning-shower-person for years, can we change my schedule?” Instead, you just end up trying to give someone a bath who is irritated and confused by the change. Now, they’re in a bad mood, but you aren’t sure why. And, really, it’s just because you didn’t adhere to their old routine.

Tiny, almost insignificant-seeming things make up important pieces of an individual’s life. Take me, for example: I always sleep holding a pillow. And, it can’t be just ANY pillow, okay? It has to be a certain size and shape. Now, this may seem odd, but it’s a huge part of my nighttime routine. When I’m missing my pillow, or when I try to substitute a different pillow in its place, my whole sleep cycle gets thrown off! 

In order to create a routine that works best, learn about the individual and what they used to do. It’s going to save you a lot of drama and detective work on the back-end! 

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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