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Dementia – The Benefits of a Routine

For older people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, routines can be very beneficial. They can help our elderly loved ones feel more secure and in control of their lives, helping them develop good habits they can stick to. Routines that incorporate joy while also creating predictability have several other noteworthy benefits. Creating a routine that brings joy is essential, and today we’re going to share a few tips that can help. 

The Benefits of a Routine 

A daily routine is an excellent way for the elderly to maintain a healthy lifestyle and enjoy life to the fullest. Adding a consistent structure to your day can benefit people of any age but is extra important for the physical and mental health of older people, especially those living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Routines provide predictability, which can help the elderly feel more secure and in control of their lives as well as develop good habits and stick to them. But remember, routines aren’t all business. There should be plenty of time scheduled for activities that bring you joy and keep life rich and meaningful. 

How to Create a Routine that Brings Joy 

Setting up a routine is empowering and creates a sense of control, which is important as older adults may not have the same control over things like physical ability and mobility. Keep in mind that the routine is not meant to be a strict schedule, but rather a realistic foundation for structure and predictability. 

Person-centred decision-making

The main goal of a routine is to meet the needs of the older person, so getting their input is key. The routine should centre on the older person’s needs and consider their unique abilities, desires, and interests. Be sure to go over the details of what they want their days to look like. Putting too many activities into each day can cause frustration, so working on a plan together is essential. 

Set realistic goals

Focus on the “can,” not the “can’t,” and modify activities as needed. Setting realistic goals makes them more achievable and enjoyable. For example, improving mobility or increasing physical activity gradually is better than pushing their limits right out of the gate. Measuring progress along the way will let you know when to make changes.  

Start with a simple routine

It doesn’t have to be complicated or overscheduled. Start by including essential activities such as meals, medication, hobbies, and exercise. As older people become more comfortable with the routine, they will notice the benefits, then more activities can be arranged.

Include enjoyable activities

 Routines don’t have to be boring. Focus on activities they enjoy, such as reading, gardening, walking, or spending time with loved ones. Social engagements can not only brighten an older person’s day, but also improve health, so make sure to include time for the things they love.  

Be flexible

 Allow space in the routine to make changes as needed to accommodate unexpected events or be spontaneous. Maybe Tuesday was forecasted to be rainy but turns out to be bright and sunny, you take a rain check on your craft day and start the herb garden instead. Appointments, visits with family and friends, and special outings all fall under this category, too.  

Prioritise nutrition

 A well-balanced diet should be part of any daily routine because it supports overall health and energy levels. Regularly spaced meals help control and maintain blood sugar levels, which is especially important for older people with diabetes. 

Make a schedule:

A schedule gives older people a tool to manage parts of their routine, feel more in control, and reduce stress. Writing reminders where older people can see them, setting timers so they know when to exercise, and making to-do lists for tasks such as personal care and errands can help older people keep track of their daily activities.   

Benefits of a Routine for Older people 

Routines that incorporate joy while also creating predictability have several other noteworthy benefits, such as: 

Reduces stress and anxiety: As older adults begin to deal with health issues, they may feel stressed and anxious. A routine lets older people know what to expect each day, making them less likely to feel overwhelmed or anxious.  

Increases feeling of safety and security: With the many changes that come with aging, older people may experience intense emotions. If they are unsure of what the future holds, a routine can make them feel confident and safe by providing a familiar and predictable environment. It also makes it easier to plan activities with family and friends. 

Improves sleep: A set routine can help regulate the body’s internal clock, making falling and staying asleep easier. Sleep quality directly affects energy, memory, and overall health. Establishing a daily routine can help lower anxiety and stress so older adults get better sleep and are generally healthier and feel better. 

Helps manage symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s: For older people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, routines can be particularly helpful. These conditions have less impact on the area of the brain that controls procedural memory, so it’s actually easier for those with these conditions to remember and follow routines. Familiar routines can create a sense of comfort and reduce confusion and anxiety. 

Sample Routine 

Need help getting started? Here’s a sample daily routine outline to use as a starting point: 


  • Try to wake up at the same time every day 
  • Drink a glass of water 
  • Take any necessary medication 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast 


  • Go for a walk or do some light exercise 
  • Have lunch 
  • Take a nap or rest for a while 
  • Engage in a hobby 


  • Prepare a healthy dinner 
  • Spend time with loved ones, socialise over the phone/video call 
  • Engage in relaxing activity such as reading or a puzzle 
  • Take any necessary medication 
  • Go to bed at the same time every night 

Give the Routine a Test Run 

Giving the routine a test run allows everyone involved, from carers to older people, to see if it supports the needs and goals as expected. It also gives them a chance to notice the benefits. A few small changes may be in order—adding something here, taking something away there, or moving activities from the morning to the afternoon. The routine may need to change over time, so regular re-evaluation will let you know if it still achieving the goal. 

Daily routines help reduce stress and anxiety because they help people to know what to expect. The tips in this guide might seem simple or obvious to you, but they can greatly improve the life of a loved one who’s living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Even little things can go can a long way in helping them to feel more secure and in control, and ultimately live more a joyful life. 

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