Why Is Routine Important For Dementia?

why is routine important for dementia

One of the questions that frequently come up in our email inbox is why routine is important for dementia.

Because dementia is a progressive disease, people with the illness usually start to lose their independence as they are unable to complete various daily tasks effectively.

The Importance of Routine for Dementia/Alzheimer’s

A daily routine is, therefore, IMPORTANT for individuals with the illness. It helps people navigate their world in a more predictable manner.

Experts agree that individuals with dementia THRIVE on familiarity because this makes them feel calm, reassured, and comforted.

This also helps to add some sense of order to their days. Especially in the early stages of the illness.

Benefits of Daily Routines for Persons with Dementia

Keep in mind that routines/habits are normally stored in LONG-TERM memory (subconscious mind).

benefits of daily routines for persons with dementia

At first, dementia affects short-term memory which implies that affected individuals will still have access to the routines even in the middle stages of the illness.

Persons with dementia often struggle with short-term memory loss. They have a hard time learning new ways of doing things.

The individuals can struggle to stay focused for a long time or even remember instructions on how to carry out a particular task.

Daily routines come in handy because a person does not have to worry about learning anything new. Hence, effectively copes with short-term memory loss warning signs.

Because a person is handling familiar tasks, routines also help to reinforce a sense of independence. This can boost self-esteem and even help people retain skills for a longer period.

Calming anxiety

Anxiety reduction is another answer for anyone asking why is routine important for dementia.

As people with the progressive illness start to lose their physical and cognitive abilities, they tend to become more frustrated with life.

Routine is crucial because it helps affected persons face their daily challenges with a greater sense of peace as well as security.

This HELPS to REDUCE agitation, stress, aggression, restlessness, and other irrational behaviors.

Daily routines do not only benefit people with dementia because they also help to reduce caregiver stress.

When daily routines are established, days become more predictable which ensures things run more smoothly.

When individuals with dementia are less anxious or agitated they have more chances for moments of connection and happiness.


Better sleep is another answer to the IMPORTANCE of routine and dementia.

Having a daily routine can help seniors with the progressive illness enjoy better sleep.

An individual who gets enough sleep becomes well rested to face the day ahead.

A study revealed that taking part in basic activities like bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time daily ENHANCES the quality of sleep.

How to Develop Daily Routines

Why Is Routine Important For Dementia?
After learning why is routine important for dementia, it is also recommended that caregivers learn how to develop helpful routines.

Crafting routines for a person with dementia may NOT be easy.

However, some strategies and tips can help in the development of the routines for people with the neurodegenerative illness.

Some of them include:

Coming up with Personalized Routines

It is important to note that dementia DOES NOT have the same effect on everyone who has the disease.

This means that a caregiver has to study the likes and dislikes of the person they are caring for to come up with a suitable routine.

Take into consideration a person’s bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, and toileting schedules when crafting the routine.

It is normally HELPFUL to keep routines in line with what the affected person has done for most of their lives.

For instance, if the person has been brushing their teeth after breakfast, let them maintain this routine.

Be Flexible

Note that as the illness progresses, the abilities of the affected persons will also change.

be flexible

It is, therefore, important to be flexible and adjust routines accordingly. Allow persons with dementia to handle as much as they can without too much pressure.

Patience is also key when dealing with persons with the illness. As time goes by, they may need to take more time doing tasks they used to complete fast.

Consider taking a break or changing the activity when a person becomes irritable or bored to avoid overwhelming them.

Additionally, it is also vital to have a section for spontaneous activities like visiting a friend or relative to the routine.

Involve the Person with Dementia

When coming up with a routine for the person with the progressive illness, get their input to know about their preferences.

It is also important to get them involved in simple tasks they can complete with ease. It can be ANYTHING from folding laundry or doing dishes because this helps maintain motor and cognitive skills.

Even if the affected persons complete the job perfectly, let them do it without any correction or ridicule.

Remember to offer praises when they are done as this helps boost a sense of self-worth and accomplishment.

Include Exercises

Daily routines should also include fun physical exercises.

It does not have to be anything strenuous but SIMPLE activities that a person can complete without too much struggle.

Depending on a person’s abilities, they can go for walks go to the gym, or even engage in chair yoga.

Include Therapeutic Activities

include therapeutic activities
Include activities that the person with dementia ENJOYS as part of their routine.

Examples of this include doing arts and crafts, puzzles, gardening, listening to music, or playing games, etc.

It is also recommended that carers add activities that help create a sense of time.

For example, putting on a show they love to watch in the evening so that they can know it’s time to sleep in a few hours.

The nonverbal cues will prove to be helpful in the later stages of the illness when the individual loses their ability to communicate well.

When coming up with a daily routine, note that disruptions may occur and the affected person may not always follow the routine to the latter.

Caregivers should not beat themselves too hard about this. Routines are only put in place to offer structure; thus, should not be too rigid.

Closing Thoughts

When asking why is routine important for dementia, it is essential to note that the benefits of routine are profound.

Because human beings are creatures of habit having routines is crucial for decreasing behavioral habits, enhancing comfort, boosting self-esteem, increasing a sense of safety and security, and a host of other perks.

Bonus: What is a Routine?

Routines can be described as things that happen regularly, often daily.

They can compromise activities like:

  • Eating breakfast
  • Taking a shower
  • Reading the newspaper or magazine
  • Working out
  • Eating
  • Taking medication
  • Drinking water
  • Doing the dishes
  • Going for a walk
  • Getting hair done on Saturday, etc.

Routines may also outline the order in which tasks should be completed.

For example, before a person goes to bed, they may want to start by visiting the bathroom, brushing teeth, using the toilet, washing hands, and finally retiring.

How Do You Calm Down an Angry Person with Dementia?

how do you calm down an angry person with dementia

As a caregiver, we commonly ask ourselves: how do you calm down an angry person with dementia?

This is because it is normal for some persons with dementia to develop aggressive behaviors which can be physical or verbal as the condition becomes worse.

It can occur as a result of a frustrating situation. Even completely out of the blue.

When this happens, there are SEVERAL WAYS that we can use to calm down an angry person who has dementia.

Best Ways To Calm Down an Angry Person With Dementia

Trying to Identify the Cause

One of the best ways to deal with an angry person is to try and figure out what has triggered the mood swing.

Numerous factors can cause this type of reaction.

This can include physical discomfort which can be as a result of medical conditions, lack of enough sleep or rest, hunger, thirst, or side effects caused by medications a person is taking.

Environmental factors such as feelings of being lost or overstimulation can also evoke anger in a person who is affected by the illness.

Identifying the CAUSE of the behavior helps you to rectify it fast to ensure that the person with dementia is as comfortable as possible.

For instance, if the individual is hungry or thirsty giving them a drink and food can help correct the problem.

Become a “Yes” Person

how do you calm down an angry person with dementia
When a caregiver finds themselves in a situation dealing with an angry person with dementia, it can help to say “yes” as much as possible.

If the affected person mentions that they have been seeing people who passed away, do not start arguing telling them that it is IMPOSSIBLE.

Instead, you can calmly point out that it would be great to see them again.

You can even build on this and ask questions like what they would talk about. This is bound to develop a sense of COMFORT and CONNECTION with one another.

It is because “yes” is considered an affirming and powerful word. It also lets the affected person know that their carer is listening.

Seek Expert Help

seek expert help
If a caregiver is not in a position to calm down an angry person with dementia, it may be helpful to seek professional help.

This can help out especially if the affected person is in pain and they cannot communicate effectively.

This is also helpful if anger stems from medication side effects. Doctors can change the medication a person is taking in a bid to reduce their SUFFERING.

If it is not possible to take the individual to the hospital, there may be no other option than to call 911.

When you make the call DO NOT FORGET to tell the responder that the person acting aggressively has dementia.

Do Not Get Upset

When dealing with anger, caregivers should focus on feelings and not facts.

Consider the EMOTIONS of the affected persons by identifying feelings behind actions or words.

This should be done in a reassuring and positive manner.

Always speak to the person in a soft tone and take care not to get upset as well.

Remember to remain RESPECTFUL and EMPATHETIC at all times.

Shift Focus

shift focus
Where possible, try and slowly introduce relaxing activities that will DISTRACT the person from their angry feelings.

It can be anything from a massage, music, or exercise that can help soothe the individual.

This will offer a welcome distraction that can help calm down the affected individual.

Take a Breather

There are times when it may not be possible to immediately calm down an angry person with dementia.

At this point, the only choice available may be to walk away for some time.

Just make sure that the person who has dementia is safe.

Giving the person some space and time can help manage feelings of anger especially if they feel like their personal space has been invaded.

This can be challenging for all of us, but it’s necessary.

Closing Thoughts

It may not be easy to look after a person who has dementia especially if they lash out without reason.

However, it is IMPORTANT to understand that the ill person behaves the way they do because of the illness.

Finding ways to calm the person can help make the situation better for everyone.

Challenging Dementia Behaviors (Complete Guide)

dementia behaviors

As a caregiver, we need to be familiar with challenging dementia behaviors and how to approach them the right way.

People who have dementia will often start to exhibit some behaviors that people around them may not understand.

This typically happens as the disease progresses where, in most cases, the sickness brings out a DIFFERENT PERSONALITY from the one the person usually has.

For instance, a loved one with dementia may start to use vulgar language, always using some unutterable words in their sentences even though they have NEVER DONE so their entire life.

In some cases, a person who was once bubbly, fun, and outgoing may all of a sudden withdraw from their circles, wanting to spend more time by themselves.

About 30-90% of people who have dementia will suffer from multiple behavioral disorders.

When such CHANGES happen, it can be difficult for relatives, friends, and other people around the ill person to comprehend what is going on.

Below we will help you understand challenging dementia behaviors.

Examples of Challenging Dementia Behaviors

examples of challenging dementia behaviors
Other than swearing and changes in personalities, there are other challenging behaviors dementia patients may showcase like:

  • Hoarding
  • Repeating the same activity or question
  • Sleep disturbance and night-time waking
  • Apathy
  • Disrobing
  • Following a spouse or partner everywhere
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation or anger
  • Restlessness, fidgeting, wandering, and pacing up and down
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Physical aggression, etc.

What Causes Challenging Behaviors?

what causes challenging behaviors
It is important to note that dementia usually affects the human brain NEGATIVELY.

The brain, on the other hand, is one of the organs that control a person’s behavior.

This implies that the illness does not only affect memory and thinking but behaviors as well.

In essence, there are three types of factors that bring about baffling dementia behaviors.

Main factors for challenging behaviors

1. Physical causes – These can include illness or discomfort.
2. External/environmental causes – This can be anything from a different routine to an environment that overstimulates the person who has dementia.
3. Cognitive/psychological causes – These include factors like paranoia or confusion

Responding to Dementia Behaviors

responding to dementia behaviors
There is no scientific way of dealing with some of the behaviors that people with dementia start to showcase along the way.

Most of the time, caregivers must TRY and FIGURE OUT what is causing a specific behavior to know to respond effectively or try and prevent the cause altogether.

For example, you may notice that certain things trigger these puzzling dementia behaviors. It may be the ill person only acts in a specific way at the same time of the day.

They may be doing this as a way of communicating their needs because most people with dementia usually develop communication problems.

You may also want to consider TOO MUCH noise or clutter as a trigger.

It is usually helpful to keep a diary for one or two weeks.

These can help you identify the triggers that will reduce or eliminate behavioral problems.

Experts also advise that caregivers should ensure that the suffering person under their care maintains a HEALTHY social life.

Persons with dementia should also continue to participate in the activities they enjoy or identify new ones that make them happy.

Additionally, gentle exercises might also help to reduce those behaviors that may seem out of character.

Additional Support

Other steps that a carer can take to assist include:

Caregivers need to REMAIN positive, patient, and calm when dealing with daunting dementia behaviors.

Never try to use force or argue with a person who is going through challenging behaviors because of the illness.

They also need to avoid lengthy explanations because it is usually hard to reason with a person who has dementia.

It is also advisable for caregivers to take short breaks when feeling overwhelmed by all the behavioral changes.

SEEKING help from others can also help pinpoint new solutions that will take care of the current problems.

When it is not possible to handle these behaviors alone, it may be time to see a physician.

The professionals might prescribe some medication that will help with behavioral issues.

Treating these problems is CRUCIAL because it helps to improve the quality of life of the carer and the person with the illness.

It may also help to prevent untimely institutionalization.

It is not unusual for a person to feel hurt or experience frustration when a loved one with dementia is going through perplexing dementia behaviors.

However, even when going through this wide range of emotions, it is vital always to remember that the changes in behaviors are a result of the sickness and it is not a PERSON’S CHOICE.

These can help you better cope with these feelings for the good of all parties.

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