Structuring My Day—In Spite of Dementia!
How important is structure in the day of someone living with dementia? It seems to be VERY important. But HOW does one create structure when one is retired and every day is different? That is my dilemma.
Here are my suggestions:
1. Keep a calendar current.
I actually have multiple calendars: one on the refrigerator where I jot down important notes, one on my Palm Pilot phone, and one on computer (Microsoft Outlook). My husband also keeps a calendar so that he can keep up with me and remind me, when needed.
2. Make a daily list.
I start mine the night before, adding to it as my husband and I talk. The next morning, I take the TO DO list and coordinate it with my calendar's listed events. While making this list, think about the time needed to accomplish each activity. Those of us with dementia need to allow extra time for activities. Also, allow extra time between activities for down time and the chance to switch focus.
3. Add details.
This actually pertains to phone calls I need to make. (I hate to make phone calls so anything that makes it easier is good!) Under each phone call I need to make, I add the phone number to call, reason for calling, and any other important information. While I am on the phone, I take any notes needed. Once the phone call is made, I write down the outcome and check it off. By doing this, I can relay the information to my husband later.
4. Put the items on the list in the order of importance, with the most important first. Then, check them off as you accomplish them. This always feels so good!
5. Each Sunday, I go over my calendar for the week with my husband. Therefore, we both have an idea about how busy the week will be. I try NOT to schedule things for more than three days, allowing me two days totally at home. Some weeks are better than others. I have found that too many activities totally wipe me out, not to mention that nothing gets done at home. I know this is also a problem with people who do not have dementia. The difference is that normally healthy people are able to make up for missed time...those of us with dementia just tend to keep getting behind...
6. Do your best to keep your calendar current. (back to number one...) Repeat these steps daily.
I'd be interested to hear from others with dementia and/or caregivers as to their ideas about structuring one's day. I know one way; I'm sure there are many other ideas out there! I am always looking for ways to improve!