Routines reduce stress for seniors
People are most afraid of the unknown. If your older adult is losing control over their physical abilities, independence, or cognitive abilities, their world gets filled with more and more unknowns.
If your senior’s days are unstructured and unpredictable, life can become even more stressful.
That’s why a consistent routine helps both seniors and caregivers. Everyone knows what to expect and there’s no need to think or worry about what’s coming next.
What is a routine?
A routine means doing the same basic activities around the same time every day. This gives structure and a natural flow to the day. It also makes it easier to make sure your older adult has taken medication, eaten regularly, and drank enough water.
For example, part of a regular daily routine would be to wake up at 8 AM, use the toilet, brush teeth, comb hair, change from pajamas to regular clothes, then sit down to a hot breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. After that, they’d take their morning medications.
When you create a routine for your older adult, base it roughly on their current daily activities. The main difference is to make it more structured and regular.
3 benefits seniors get from routines
1. Reduced stress and anxiety
Older adults who no longer have control of their lives, maybe because of cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s or stroke, may feel constantly stressed and anxious. They may feel disoriented or unsure about what’s going to happen in the next moment.
Other seniors have become too ill or frail to manage their days. They’re also dependent on others for everything. Not knowing when or if your needs will be met is also stressful.
A predictable routine reduces stress and anxiety because seniors know exactly what will be happening, how the activity will be done, and when it will occur. Routine actions will also become part of their body memory. They won’t have to consciously think or worry about what they’re doing. Their bodies unconsciously sense what’s coming next.
2. Increased feelings of safety and security
Many seniors don’t like surprises. Having a routine lets them predict and plan their day, which makes them feel safe. It also gives stability that seniors often enjoy because they can settle into a schedule that makes sense.
It’s also easier to cope with memory and cognitive issues when everything else is steady and predictable. Even though a senior with dementia might not be aware of the routine or even of time passing, having a routine will make them feel more grounded and secure.
3. Better sleep
Having a regular daily routine also helps older adults sleep better. A study found that doing the same basic activities like eating, dressing, and bathing at the same time every day improves sleep quality.
Since many seniors have trouble with sleep, creating a predictable daily routine is a simple, non-drug way to improve the situation.
Simple daily routines can significantly improve your senior’s quality of life, but there’s no need to be too rigid about it. You’ll still need to be flexible on days when your older adult isn’t feeling well or if there’s a special event.
But using a routine most of the time can reduce stress, increase the feeling of security, and improve sleep. That helps your older adult (and you!) feel healthier and happier.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Wiser Home Care Services