Caregiving 101: Tips for New Caregivers

The Importance of Daily Routines for Aging Parents

The Importance of Daily Routines for Aging Parents

The Importance of Daily Routines for Aging Parents

There's comfort in consistency. Getting your aging parents into a daily routine of doing the same activities at roughly the same time every day is one of the more important things you can do as a caregiver. Humans are creatures of habit. Everyone can benefit from having a predictable schedule, perhaps no one more so than seniors.  Research shows that having a daily routine boosts mental and physical health, two things we all want to support in our aging parents. To help you achieve that goal, we've rounded up some of the top benefits and some tips to help get you and your parents started.

Routines Help Your Parents Feel More in Control

As your parents get older, they may start feeling as though they have no control over their lives, particularly as they start needing more help. That's even more true if your parents have health problems that resulted in physical or cognitive impairment and they need to heavily lean on others.  Having a predictable routine relieves disorientation and the feeling of not knowing what's going to happen moment to moment. It replaces that stress and anxiety with the comfort and reassurance of knowing what's going to happen, when it will happen, how each activity will be done, and who will be helping them. Plus, over time, the routine activities become almost second nature. This gives your parents a stronger feeling of being in control and as independent as possible.

Routines Help Manage Symptoms of Cognitive Decline

That same stress and anxiety aging parents experience as they need increasing amounts of help are compounded for parents with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. The disease slowly makes it harder for people to carry out activities. But the familiarity of a daily routine not only helps relieve stress and anxiety, which also helps calm potential irritability and aggression, but it also can help preserve functions of mental and physical tasks. It boosts confidence and self-esteem and helps decrease caregiver stress.

Routines Support Healthy Eating

Two of the common problems among aging adults are forgetting to get groceries and forgetting to eat a certain meal. Following a regular schedule reduces the odds your parents will forget to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Additionally, getting into the practice of meal planning (with or without help from you or other caregivers) or going grocery shopping on a specific day each week can ensure they have consistent access to nutritious foods.

Routines Encourage Improved Sleeping Patterns

Winding down, turning in, and getting up at roughly the same times every day can go a long way to helping your parents get better quality sleep. As we age there are lots of factors that can make it difficult to get enough rest, including medical problems, stress, and not getting enough exercise. But getting seven to eight hours of sleep is so important for overall health. Keeping a regular schedule for sleep helps keep the internal clock inside the body ticking, making it easier to fall asleep and wake feeling more refreshed.

Tips for Helping Aging Parents Create a Daily Routine

First and foremost, it's important to set realistic goals. Sit down with your parents and make a list of things that they do (and should do) every day, including everything from waking up to getting bathed and dressed to making meals to completing chores around the house. You can use this as the foundation for building their routine and schedule. Additional tips for creating a schedule and routine include the following:

  • Don't forget to include caregivers in the routine because it's essential your parents know when people are coming and who will be showing up.
  • Consider your parents' normal schedule. The routine for a morning person and a night owl might be a little different. The routine should be tailored to the person.
  • Swap out unhealthy activities with better ones. For example, if your parents love eating sweets as a midday snack, try switching them to taking a walk or having a cup of tea.
Kimberly-Clark Canada makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.