We need a daily routine at home.

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I am living with demented parents, Mom moreso than Dad. I'm finding after living here 3 months, that Mom gets "bad" when she has nothing to do. I think some sort of routine or daily structure of time will help but living in her house I don't know where to begin. I don't even know if Mom would even cooperate with a routine. Some times she is sort of normal, but not that often. Most of the time is spent in delusional thinking which gets really bad. I need a very simple but continuous routine to get her into. One that she can easily follow. Any suggestions? I'm afraid at the rate the dementia is progressing this may be the last chance for any kind of normalcy here at home. Otherwise i will be the one to join them in the mentally unstable condition!!!


HI Penny, my Mom is in an assisted living dedicated to dementia residents. Here are some ideas from their routine, of course, you will need to adjust for you and your folks. Meals at the same time each day. Main meal in the middle of the day. Residents are awakened, bathed/clothed before breakfast. After breakfast, exercise and hydration. This consists of leg and arm movements while seated. you might get a video for elder exercises. Reading/reviewing a newspaper or magazine. Toileting before lunch/dinner/bedtime. After lunch, games. Carnival style --- tossing a bean bag into hoops, tossing balls or balloons, watching old time movies or listening to music for their growing up years. Folding small clothing items. (AL just has a bin but you might use your actual laundry. Face and hand towels, for example) Mid afternoon hydration.

Think about your folks likes/habits. Puzzles (simple ones) are big at my Mom's AL. Playing cards adapted. Sort the cards into suits or colors. Games like war if they are able to play that. Sing a long, my Mom remembers the words to songs we sang growing up. Going through small photo albums. It depends on your folks level of functioning. Can she help in the kitchen? Setting the table? Folding napkins? Clearing the table? Measuring out ingredients for cooking/baking? Simple crafts? Decorations for the holidays? They may not make Martha Stewarts' table but this is where your family is now. If mobility is all right, a walk outside can be good. Just choose the location for safety.

So here is the typical schedule: 7-8:30 up and dressed. Have them bathe on different days so you can help just one at a time. 8:30 breakfast. 9:30 exercise. 10 am beverages and possible snack (especially if they didn't eat a good breakfast) 11 - review of newspaper or magazine. 11:45 toileting, noon meal. 1 pm activity/game. 2:30 music or walk; 3 - hydration/snack; 4 clothes folding, toileting lighter meal @ 5 . 6 pm wind down, tv, etc.

No caffeine! I don't care for the typical late morning schedule at my Mom's so that is when I come over. I do face and hand creams, take my Mo outside on the walking paths, etc. As you can see this is a 24/7 job! Think about what your folks can do for themselves so that you have some time on your own! Good luck
I am sure that my uncle had dementia and i did find that his eating habits had a lot to do with mood swings. He would tend to eat highly sweet items like canned peaches in heavy syrup, cakes, and high starchy foods that convert to sugar. I noticed erratic behaviors afterwards. I also noticed that the television would "trigger" emotional episodes with him as well. He would become aggressive and aggravated, making it more difficult for me to maintain. I had to become "aware" of what channels to avoid to keep peace.
I have been caring for my mom for a year and a half. The first three months or so, I did it with very little outside help. I then had a consultant from Lutheran Family Services come in to do an assessment on needs. They suggested a day care program which is very close to the home that I then started taking her to. When I first started taking her to the program, it was extremely difficult to the point of crying, screaming etc. However, much of that anxiety has dissipated. We now have problems getting her there because she does not want to go alone and doesn't remember being there before. Once I tell her that she has been there more than 100 times and that she has lots of friends there, activities for her to do all day, she is finally able to go. When we get there she remembers the building and driveway. It was very much worth the initial stress when starting this program. Some insurance companies cover this sort of care as does Medicaid. If eligible, Medicaid also pays for transportation if you need it.
The TV issue can easily be dealt with if the tv/cable/Direct TV has parental controls. You can easily block channels that will cause emotional outbursts. One of the ones blocked at mother's is the Animal Channel. While it is cute to watch many of their shows, they also have shows that show animals badly mistreated such as Animal Cops Houston. That will show will put tears in most anyone's eyes. Puzzles are a wonderful way to help give them something to do. It used to be every winter we had a huge puzzle on the dining room table and even during nights either of us could not sleep, we would be found working on it. I will never forget when my step-father had a stroke. He was looking for our German Shepherd under the couch in the living room with a lighter. An 85 pound white dog under a couch that has only 3" clearance from the bottom of the couch to the floor. Can you imagine? So please make sure to put all lighters, candles and matches away some place even if it means putting them in a small fireproof safe. Their dementia has no common sense. You have to protect them and yourself! Also contact the local senior center if your town has one. They offer many programs free of charge.
Please do not try to do this all on your own. An adult day program is a life saver, and reasonably priced. I help with my mom's care, and it is tough to keep her busy for the whole day. My dad gets my mom up everyday, baths are a couple times a week, pills then we go out to breakfast. Walking to the car, getting in and out, and walking to the restaurant are ways to keep Mom moving. Now,having two to keep track of will be a challenge, but you could get a friend or family member to come along. Bathroom when home, then a short nap. Now, Mom is pretty far along and can no longer help with simple tasks. There used to be a daycare nearby, but it closed, and Dad is dragging his feet getting her to another one, but I know she would benefit from the activity that would happen there. We do sing alongs, reminisce, and converse about whatever Mom "sees" going on around her. When weather permits, we go outside, take short walks, sit on the porch. We used to play cards, do puzzles, fold laundry, unload dishwasher, but she can no longer do those things. She can join in singing and seems to enjoy that.
Mama has asked for & I've been able to order online several CDs of older songs. Almost everything is being moved to CDs now. When I was a child she sang all of the time, then she quit because she said she could not hit the right notes. She is singing and humming again and it sounds wonderful to me. I don't hear any bad notes.
I do have to watch the TV. My mother likes to watch shows that upset my father. For the most part she now understands he cannot watch them. We bought him a TV so he can watch Andy Griffith & westerns. She now watches TV in the living room. When he goes to the living room we turn off her TV and turn on the music.
Oh, one last thing, along the line of the lighters, watch the phone. When my father started getting really bad, he kept threatening to call 911 to report we were tying him up, not letting him go to the bathroom, not letting him walk, etc. None of it was true, but I knew my mother would freak if the police showed up on her doorstep. Plus, the police do not need to waste their time on "useless" calls. Unfortunately, that is no longer an issue (I almost wish it was, at least he talked even if it was because he was mad).

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