The world revolves around schedules. The sun comes up and the day begins. Our bodies are made to be on a schedule. There is comfort in knowing what will happen and when. For caregivers, a good schedule is a most important tool. Finding what works for you and the one you care for can make a huge difference in how your days will go. Having a good schedule will allow your loved one to make mental notes on what to look forward to throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be rigid, but should accommodate small changes that take place.
It really helps if you are in-tune with your loved ones' body clock. Is your loved one a morning person, or do they like to sleep in? Do they eat a light breakfast, or prefer a hearty one? All these details help you to make their day better. My mother is great at schedules and that’s good for my father. He survived a bout with cancer and there were many hard days to endure. Momma made it better by always staying ahead of the game. She made sure he had little snacks throughout the day. She also made sure he got up for small walks around the house or out on the porch. These broke up the long days for daddy. I know it also helped momma get through those trying times.
Sometimes just a “spot of tea” can be something to look forward to. When my children were small, we’d have “tea” around 3 o’clock every afternoon. Their “tea” was most often hot chocolate and I tried to have cookies to serve. We’d use are prettiest cups and saucers and I’d pour from a china tea pot. Sometimes we’d put some music on or watch the birds out the windows. There were always interesting conversations. I hope they look back on our “tea times” with fond memories. I do. Most seniors love their tea or coffee. And even the most finicky eaters will nibble on a sweet treat. Make it something you both can look forward to each day.
Exercise should always be a part of your schedule and that goes for your loved one as well. Perhaps all they can accomplish are leg lifts or arm circles, but it is important that they do what they can to keep up their strength and mobility. Almost every senior can help with small chores such as folding clothes or putting away the silverware. These small tasks are good for their bodies and their minds. Just a short walk down the sidewalk can give them the exercise and sunshine they need. They will sleep much better if they get in some exercise and you will too!
Even bathing should be at a time when your elder is feeling their best. For some that will be after breakfast but for others, they love a shower or bath before bed. Doctors appointments and shopping excursions will probably work best if scheduled before noon. Make sure to always stop for a treat to make the experience a little more fun. Make sure there’s water and an extra blanket in the car. Elders are more sensitive to cold temperatures than we are.
Nighttime rituals are a way of winding down. Try to keep their bedtime around the same time each night. A glass of water or milk before bed can often aid sleep. Many seniors like to read a while before going to sleep. Avoid food and caffeine a few hours before bed. Both can cause sleep disturbances.
It really helps to have your schedule written down. If someone has to step in for you, they will know what your loved one expects throughout the day. Having it posted on a calendar can keep everyone in the loop. Make sure to leave some “me time” on that schedule. Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your loved one. If something happens to you, what would they do?
What kind of schedule does your loved one keep? Are they morning people?
If you or a family member is going through a crisis, I want you to know that you are not alone. The support and education you need is available at your fingertips from expert care professionals at Lutheran Homes of Michigan. You may talk to a real person who does have the answers, without any obligation by calling 989.652.3470 or by emailing
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