How To Utilize Rituals And Routines To Help Seniors Stay On Track
Are you or your senior loved one sometimes bewildered or frustrated by how your days are going? Are important tasks being overlooked? Senior care professionals in San Marino and elsewhere explain how utilizing rituals can help seniors stay on track.
Everyone lives with change, and few, if any, changes can be avoided. One way or the other, changes have to be incorporated into your life. As individuals age, routines and rituals become an increasingly effective way of coping.
Rituals And Routines Provide Order
Following a set way and time of doing things is a ritual. A ritual can be something like having your morning coffee at precisely 8:15 each day. Many people feel unsettled and anxious if their ritual is interrupted or eliminated.
Routines are less specific and generally concern everyday chores. You might want to dust one room each day. Routines are inherently more flexible for most individuals, but they can be disturbing if not performed.
Rituals and routines represent order. Positioning a walker in an exact place and direction means that it can be safely accessed when needed. Paying bills every Friday keeps finances current.
Rituals often reflect a desire to achieve a particular result. For example, mourning rituals performed when someone dies help alleviate grief. These can be private or public. Other rituals serve to reduce anxiety.
Many routines and rituals provide a way of making sure essential tasks are done. Busy individuals or those who are forgetful know that their cell phone is never dead. That’s because they always put it on the charger while they’re getting dressed.
Rituals Offer Comfort When Life Is Full Of Unknowns
Most individuals, regardless of age or health, crave certainty in their life. Knowing what will happen next provides security.
Individuals, especially seniors, can lose control of their world. Conditions like a stroke, debilitating injury, or cognitive impairment strip away their ability to care for themselves. Life becomes a series of frightening unknowns.
When their life is changed beyond their control, people feel lost. If everything previously known is gone, security vanishes. Uncertainty fills a senior’s life with anxiety, worry, and stress.
Days become unpredictable, leaving seniors off-balance and confused. The effect on their health, and that of their caregivers, is negative. Establishing regular routines and rituals helps restore a sense of normalcy.
A familiar ritual helps individuals find their center when everything else has changed. The familiar is comforting and supportive. Rituals allow feelings of security and okayness to replace anxiety.
Rituals Become Habits That Overcome Confusion
The sequence and timing of activities doesn’t have to be rigid. The extent of doing certain things at specific times depends on your loved one’s mental and physical competency. The best rituals and routines provide enough structure that everything essential is accomplished while reducing anxiety.
One way to start is to establish a set time to go to bed nightly and get up the next morning. Then incorporate specific tasks related to each. For example, the morning routine is to get dressed, eat breakfast, and take medications before turning on the TV.
Doing each thing in order each morning establishes a routine that overcomes forgetfulness. You know that your senior didn’t forget to eat. You know that if the TV is on, they took their medications.
Your loved one may establish rituals within their routine. They might want exactly one pat of butter on their toast. The toast can only be consumed before eating a banana that’s sliced just so.
Rituals Benefit Seniors And Their Caregivers
The routines and rituals offer benefits that include:
- Less stress and anxiety: The predictability is reassuring. If you’re helping someone, they know who you are and what you’re doing. They know what’s next and when and how it will occur.
- Increased safety and security: Routine reduces becoming disoriented when trying to decide what to do next. Individuals won’t think they forgot to take their medications and retake them. Knowing that they followed their routine frees a person’s mind to focus on other matters, which potentially improves their quality of life.
- Better sleep habits: Anyone who cares for a family member knows that getting them to sleep can be difficult. An established and consistent nighttime routine forms a habit that gets them in bed to stay. They’ve already brushed their teeth, used the bathroom, and said their prayers. Their mind and body know it’s time for a trip to dreamland.
Rituals and routines that are consistently practiced become ingrained habits. Individuals eventually do them naturally, without thinking.
Routines and rituals have additional benefits for caregivers, such as:
- More cooperation from your loved one
- Fewer arguments and power struggles
- Less time and energy spent trying to coax them into doing things they don’t want to do
You will also be better able to get the rest you need.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our senior care experts in San Marino and our other locations customize our services to fit your needs. We are dedicated to helping you and your senior loved one live safely at home.