It’s tough for anyone living with a chronic disease, but it seems even more challenging when it’s a senior loved one who has worked hard to raise a family and are now faced with sickness. If you are a caregiver for an older adult in your life, you already know how important it is to maintain a routine and a predictable order. This is especially true for cognitive decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
We all tend to have better days when we stick to routines and habits. Just like children who need routine, it’s no different for adults. It brings order to the chaos. It’s been proven that following a routine will actually lower stress levels and aid in healing.
Routine vs. Schedule
Although following a routine is a daily habitual task, it may differ from simply having a schedule. Routines don’t usually involve restraints of time the way a schedule would. A good example of routine vs. schedule is taking your medicine each day at the same time. You don’t need a certain amount of time to accomplish that. You are just doing it consistently each day at the same time so that you don’t forget or worry that it won’t get done.
How Can a Routine Help Manage Chronic Illness?
There are a couple of ways to manage a chronic illness and setting a routine definitely will help you! Here is why:
1. Routines help you identify the needs.
You’ll learn with a routine that your loved one’s body responds to certain things at certain times. For example, if you’ve discovered that they tend to be tuckered out and ready for a nap by lunchtime, you will want to get the hard stuff done in the morning hours. This will conserve their energy and help them have a good remainder of their day after some rest.
2. Routines keep you organized.
When there are a million things to get done each day, you will be thankful for a routine! The reason routine is so important is simply that your mental state will be MUCH more manageable as you deal with the stressful parts of caretaking. The more organized you are, the more peace and calm you’ll feel on the inside, and this, in turn, will lower your stress level!
How Do You Get into a Routine?
It’s crucial to recognize that like anything else, making changes takes time. Setting up good routines might take some trial and error, so be kind to yourself along the way as you get into these changes! Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
• Make sure you take care of YOU!
Chronic illnesses can often spiral out of control very quickly, so it’s important that you get into the habit of daily self-care as you become the caretaker for a loved one. While you might not have time to take daily bubble baths or take regular trips to the spa, you can set aside a few minutes each day to rejuvenate. Taking a quick walk to get some air or carving out time to have a mindless activity like watching a great TV show, are just a couple of ideas. Whatever you love to do in your spare time, make sure you get at least some time to do those things when you are caretaking. Without taking care of yourself, you will easily become stressed and resentful, and not much good to anyone. YOU matter!
• Make sure you visit your own doctor for regular checkups.
Make sure you take care of yourself with regular wellness-exams with your own doctor. If you are drawing Medicare, these visits are fully covered each year!
• Get enough sleep!
Any time there is sickness, sleep becomes paramount. Even as a caretaker, you need to get enough sleep so that you can help your loved one have the best recovery possible. If sleep doesn’t come easily, consider pressing the reset button with a nighttime routine. This includes things like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and also having a way to unwind at the end of the day. Putting a little effort into your sleep routine will keep everyone healthier! You should be aiming to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
For more information on incorporating routines for the senior in your life, please contact us today!
Home Helpers of Northern Virginia is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour care and live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care, stroke recovery care, as well as homemaker services in Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Brambleton, Broadlands, Burke, Dulles, Fair Oaks, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Great Falls, Herndon, Leesburg, McLean, Merrifield, Oakton, Potomac Falls, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, Vienna, and Seven Corners, Virginia.
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