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Daily Routines for a Person with Dementia (5264)

Daily Routines for a Person with Dementia (5264) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Geriatrics


Daily Routines for a Person with Dementia

A person with dementia may need help with their daily routines. It may be hard for
them to accept help. Needing help can make the person feel like they are losing
their freedom and independence. It can be hard for the caregiver, especially when
helping with tasks that are normally private. For help knowing which tasks a person
with dementia can safely do and which ones they need help with, you may want to
speak with an occupational therapist, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, nurse or
social worker.

When planning daily routines, keep these tips in mind.

ξ A set routine is best. It causes less stress and worry.

ξ Do not rush the person. It can make them more confused.

ξ Break the task down into simple steps. Give one step directions, in simple

ξ People with dementia are very aware of the moods of people around them. Try
to remain calm and patient.

ξ People with dementia can tire quickly. Rotate busy times with rest.

ξ Allow the person to make choices when able. Try to limit the number of options
so there is less pressure on them.

ξ Keep the person aware of date and time by using clocks and calendars.

ξ Think of things your loved one enjoys and try to keep them involved in some
way. For instance, if they were once a musician, the person might enjoy listening
to music. A homemaker who can no longer use a washing machine may still
enjoy folding laundry.
ξ Repeating the same act may be soothing for the person. For example, stacking
items like the mail, or moving small things that need to be moved from one place
to another.

Daily Routines

Common Problems Possible Solutions

Forgets to eat or to drink fluids.
Remind them with telephone calls, alarms, or
Fill a water bottle to have handy for sipping
throughout the day
Frequent small meals and snacks

Leaves food to burn on the stove. Unplug stove and/or oven
Use the microwave oven
Have meals brought to the home
Eat meals at an adult day center
Hire an aide to prepare meals
Move to a place with round-the-clock care

Throws food away; hides or hoards
food; uses spoiled food.
Check on the person often
Hire someone to assist with cooking meals

Gets confused in a restaurant.

Suggest one or two choices rather than
showing the complete menu.
Consider quiet, well-lit restaurants at non-busy

Not able to prepare a meal. Have person help the caregiver with tasks such
as tearing lettuce, setting the table and drying

Eats all the time. Set and keep certain meal times
Distract the person with other tasks
Provide low-calorie snacks such as fruit

Not able to use utensils. Offer finger foods
Provide verbal cues and reminders to keep
Assist with feeding

Has weight loss.

Talk with person’s doctor
Suggest well-liked foods
Offer small portions often

Common Problems Possible Solutions

Forgets to change clothes.
Lay out new clothes at night
Remove dirty clothes from room
If the person wants to always wear the same
outfit, have more than one

Not able to decide what to wear. Reduce the number of choices
Set one outfit out at night
Allow more time to decide

Has trouble dressing. Lay out clothes in order
Hand person one clothing item at a time
Use loose clothes/Velcro®
Slip-on shoes

Is afraid of bathing. Help the person feel in control
Keep the same bathing routine
Use familiar towels and soap
Be gentle
Listen to soothing music while bathing
May need to sponge bathe some days
Do not leave unattended

Forgets to do daily hygiene tasks.
Stick to the routine and do not rush
Brush your own teeth so they can copy you

Not able to find bathroom.
Use visual cues such as sign on the door,
bright colored rugs
Avoid items that look like a toilet, such as a
trash can
Remove bathroom door lock

Is not able to control bowel or
Toilet every 2 to 3 hours
Limit fluids after 6 pm
Consider using incontinence products at night
or on outings
Consult with the person’s doctor or nurse

Common Problems Possible Solutions

Does not take pills as told.
Use telephone cues or alarms
Use pill box to set up daily or weekly pills

Takes wrong pills. Remove all old or unused pills, as well as over
the counter medicines and vitamins
Move to a living place where pills are

Loses things.
Reduce clutter
Label drawers

Not able to keep home clean. Keep tasks simple
Find some helpful things to do like dusting or
folding clothes
Hire a home cleaning service

Adult day centers are a good way for a person with dementia to have social time.
The events are matched to the person’s skills and provide a sense of self-worth.
They also give the caregiver a break. The Benefit Specialist for your County Aging
Unit or Area Agency on Aging, community social workers, and others who work
within the aging system can provide more details about adult day centers.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great source of information. You can contact them at
1-800-272-3900 or www.alz.org.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of WI is another great resource. You can contact
them at 1-888-308-6251 or www.alzwisc.org

To find resources in other areas, Elder Locator can be helpful. This service can be
reached by calling 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5264