Creating a Routine for a Person with Dementia

When I arrived in England six months ago to look after my father who had developed Alzheimer’s, I came thinking, ‘Now what am I going to do with him?’ I had left England thirty years before, knew nothing about the town I was moving to (it was my sister’s locale) and had no adult experience with England.

Despite these misgivings and no clear idea of what dad could or could not do, I decided to flesh out a schedule to see if it would work. I knew dad was a great reader and even though now he forgot what he read, I thought a trip to the library would be welcomed. So I pencilled that in for Mondays.

Shortly after I arrived in the town of Malvern, I discovered the incredible theatre scene with new plays every week and weekly movies in the cinema. I knew it had been years since dad had been to the cinema and although I guessed he wouldn’t understand it, I guessed rightly that he would enjoy to trip out and the experience. So Tuesdays became Entertainment Days when we went to a matinee movie.

One thing I absolutely love about England are its pubs. When I was young, I used to enjoy driving along the country lanes and stopping at the first pub we came to. So naturally enough, when dad seemed restless, I told him we’d go out on Wednesdays for our Discovery Days. Since neither my father, my son nor I knew the way around the environs, we could happily set off at midday and guess our way to a different pub each week.

Thursdays became our Appointment Days. I started to book doctors, chiropodists, dentists, optometrists and so on on that day. On Friday we go visiting – friends and family or further afield to museums, churches, exhibitions and lectures.

Saturday is our day for shopping – groceries maybe, clothes, car boot sales, market visits – anywhere we can spend some money! And Sunday brings us to church visits and the end of the week.

This is just a rough outline of what we do but it helps my father when he’s going through the days of the week. He can say, “Oh, it’s Monday tomorrow – library day.” Or when he’s not as cluey and you’ve not quite woken up yourself, you can just rattle off: “Oh, it’s Wednesday so we’re going on a Discovery Day.” It gives a structure to your week and a focus for each day.

Try it in your own caring and tell me how you get on.

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