As we age, we often experience various losses that can be challenging. For aging loved ones, declining mental or physical health, mobility, or losing a spouse or close friends can be particularly difficult. A routine can help them focus on what they can control, providing a sense of structure and predictability that can be reassuring and empowering.
Eight Reasons a Daily Routine is Essential for the Elderly
Creating a daily routine adapted to the specific needs and interests of your elderly loved one can provide the foundation they need to support their physical, emotional, and mental health.
Here are eight ways a daily routine can help your loved one continue to live a rich, rewarding life.
1. Maintaining a sense of purpose and structure
Without a set schedule or regular activities, it’s easy to feel bored or isolated, leading to depression and other health issues. A daily routine helps older adults maintain a sense of structure and purpose, providing a framework for their day-to-day lives.
2. Improved sleep patterns
Our sleep patterns can change as we age, with many seniors experiencing insomnia or waking up frequently during the night. A consistent daily routine can help regulate sleep patterns and promote better sleep hygiene. By going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, seniors can train their bodies to recognize when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake, leading to more restful and restorative sleep.
3. Promoting physical health
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. A daily routine that includes regular exercise or physical activity can help seniors maintain their strength, flexibility, and mobility. Activities like walking, yoga, and swimming are all great options for seniors, providing gentle, low-impact exercise.
4. Managing chronic conditions
Many seniors suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, which require ongoing management and monitoring. A routine that includes medication management, regular doctor visits, and self-care practices like healthy eating and exercise can help seniors manage their conditions and prevent complications.
5. Staying mentally sharp
As your loved one ages, their cognitive abilities can decline, leading to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and other challenges. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities like reading, crossword puzzles, or playing games can help seniors stay mentally sharp and prevent cognitive decline.
6. Maintaining social connections
Social isolation can be a significant problem for seniors, especially those living alone or with limited mobility. A daily routine that includes social activities like visiting friends, attending church services, joining a club, or attending a senior center can help your loved one stay connected to their community and prevent loneliness and depression.
7. Reducing stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can significantly affect your loved one’s health, leading to a range of physical and mental health issues. A daily routine with stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing, or gentle exercise can help your senior manage stress and anxiety and improve their overall well-being.
8. Lessening the risk of depression
Although depression is a genuine problem for many older adults, they are more likely than any other age group to believe they should handle it themselves rather than seek help. Untreated depression increases the risk of chronic health problems, poor quality of life, and suicide.
The following Statistics cited by Mental Health America are alarming:
- Over two million of the 34 million Americans aged 65 and older suffer from depression.
- One-third of widows or widowers meet the criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse, and half of these individuals remain clinically depressed after one year.
If you suspect your elderly loved one is struggling with depression, it is essential they are evaluated by their doctor or a mental health professional.
Daily Routines are Crucial for those with Dementia
Dementia is a progressive cognitive impairment that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Daily routines are essential for all elderly people, especially those with dementia. Familiar routines can provide predictability and a sense of control for seniors with dementia, reducing anxiety, confusion, frustration, and helplessness.
The following are some routines that are vital for your loved one with dementia:
- Those with dementia often experience confusion and disorientation. A consistent routine can help your elderly loved one with dementia manage daily activities and avoid the stress and anxiety that can arise from unfamiliar situations.
- Seniors with dementia often struggle to maintain independence, crucial to preserving their identity and self-worth. A daily routine can empower a person with dementia, helping them to feel in charge of their life and avoiding the helplessness and frustration that can lead to aggressive or disruptive behaviors.
- Seniors with dementia often experience social isolation. Regular visits from friends, family members, or a personal companion, or taking part in structured activities at a senior center can help ease loneliness. Incorporating social activities into a daily routine can help seniors maintain their social connections and stay engaged with the world around them.
- Maintaining regular physical and mental stimulation is crucial for seniors with dementia, as it can enhance cognitive function and lessen the effects of the disease’s decline. A daily routine that includes physical exercise, brain-stimulating activities, and hobbies can benefit seniors with dementia. It can help preserve their physical and mental health and increase their quality of life.
- As dementia progresses, seniors may experience difficulty performing everyday activities, such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. By incorporating assistance with these tasks into a daily routine, seniors with dementia can maintain their hygiene and nutrition while remaining as independent as possible.
- Seniors with dementia may encounter a variety of symptoms, such as agitation, aggression, and wandering. These symptoms can be managed and prevented from escalating by implementing a daily routine that includes medication management, structured activities, and regular meals.
Verywellhealth gives five excellent tips for setting routines for those with dementia or anyone with mental or physical decline:
- Keep choices simple. Offer one or two options at mealtime or for any choice. Open-ended options are too confusing.
- Work with their schedule and abilities. When do they function best? What tasks can they manage independently, and what do they need help with? Give them as much independence as possible.
- Keep plenty of clocks and calendars handy. Easy-to-read clocks and calendars can help ease confusion, so your loved one knows what time it is and what to expect next.
- Balance activities and rest. Help prevent your loved one from becoming tired or irritable by ensuring they have the rest they need.
- Don’t be afraid of repetition. Performing the same activities can help the person feel competent and in control and helps slow the decline of certain functions.
By promoting healthy habits, providing structure and purpose, and keeping your elderly loved one engaged and active, a daily routine can help them stay independent and enjoy life to the fullest.
Contact At Home Harmony to learn how in-home medical, personal care, and pharmacy services can help your elderly loved one stay safe and well in their home.