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The Value of Routine for those living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias

When living with a dementia diagnosis, lifestyles change.  Sometimes it feels as if the life we have known is gone, and it is not clear where to start to recreate order.  Your loved one is not processing things as well, may even be having mood swings or negative behaviors that precipitated getting a diagnosis. One of the best researched caregiving strategies is routine.  Having a daily routine provides order and predictability allowing your loved one the ability to process more easily. 

Research shows regular attendance at an adult day center sustains the relationship between caregivers and individuals with dementia.1 A study of nonpharmacological strategies for Alzheimer’s behaviors showed routine-based interventions were effective in reducing negative behaviors.2 Familiar routine was instrumental in preventing agitation.3 Caregivers had improved coping skills based on routine.4

The healthiest routine will include predictability during meal time, bed time and social engagement time.  Look at your loved one’s schedule prior to diagnosis and consider adapting it to meet the changes you are noticing with diagnosis.  If you need assistance, consider reaching out to the memory care community with the wisdom of longevity, contact Arden Courts.


By-line:  Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s.  Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia. 



1Laird, E.A., McGurk, P., Reid, B., Ryan, A. (2017).  “Making the best of what we have”: the lived experiences of community psychiatric nurses, day centre managers and social workers supporting clients with dementia attending a generic day care service, International Journal of Older People Nursing. Jun 29. doi: 10.1111/opn.12157.

2Wong, C., Leland, N.E. (2016).  Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Reducing Negative Behavioral Symptoms: A Scoping Review, Occupational Therapy Journal Review, 36(1): 34-41.

3Hoe, J., Jesnick, L., Turner, R., Leavey ,G,. Livingston, G. Caring for relatives with agitation at home: a qualitative study of positive coping strategies, British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 3(1): 34-40.

4Shih, Y.H., Pai ,M.C., Huang, Y.C., Wang, J.J. (2017).  Sundown syndrome, sleep quality, and walking among community-dwelling people with Alzheimer’s disease, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association,18(5):396-401.



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