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Enhancing Daily Life: Creating a Daily Plan

Familiarity with schedule and settings is often important for people with dementia. Organization of daily activities can help reduce agitation and frustration for your loved one living with dementia. Daily plans are helpful both for you, the caregiver, as well as your loved one. Creating a daily plan is one way you can help reduce stress and may help improve your loved one’s mood.

With a plan in place, you can spend more time doing activities that provide meaning and enjoyment for a person with dementia. Planning daily activities may take some time for you to experiment and make adjustments based on what works best. Some daily activities you may want to include in your plan include: household chores, washing vegetables and doing dishes, personal care, music, arts and crafts, playing cards, watching TV or a movie, gardening, physical activity or exercise, reading, puzzles, social and spiritual activities.

Here are some tips to help you create a daily plan:

  • Consider your loved one’s likes, dislikes, abilities and interests.
  • Keep in mind how your loved one used to structure his or her day prior to dementia. Try to keep things as “normal” as possible.
  • Provide ample time for meals, bathing and dressing, as these activities may take longer.
  • Think about what activities work best, and which don’t. Success of a particular activity may vary from day to day.
  • Set regular times for waking up and going to bed. This is especially important if your loved one struggles with sleep issues or sundowning.
  • Include time for frequent breaks and rest. You do not need to fill every minute of the day with activity.
  • Remember that as dementia progresses, your loved one’s needs may change and you may need to adapt your daily routine accordingly.

As you go through daily life with your loved one, it’s important to be understanding. People living with dementia often have difficulty remembering directions, and their skills will decline with time, so be willing to quietly make adjustments based on what they can or can’t do without drawing attention to these changes.