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The Importance of Creating (and Sticking to) a Routine for Seniors With Dementia

Memory Care patient smiling while sitting with her caregiver

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it can be a difficult time to process your emotions. You’re seeking ways to support your loved one and help them in every way possible but might feel lost on what steps to take.

In the early stages of dementia, it’s a good idea to provide your loved one ways that help them lead an engaging life. Part of this approach may be establishing a routine.

Establishing a routine for dementia patients can provide your loved one with a familiar flow of activities each day. Having a routine is soothing, and your loved one knows what to expect, which can be a great source of comfort for someone living with dementia.

Why Are Routines Important for People with Dementia?

Routine can help a person with dementia because as the disease progresses, short-term memory loss may be a common symptom. If your loved one is experiencing short-term memory loss, they can easily become confused and unsure of where they are or what they’re doing.

When there’s a dependable routine, your loved one can resume a sense of control and expectation for the day. This feeling empowers them to engage with familiar activities. Your loved one may be aware that they could eventually lose the ability to perform certain tasks, so having tasks that they can complete each day preserves their sense of autonomy.

Having a routine can also decrease feelings of anxiety. There are certain times of day when your loved one can be feeling most agitated – like as the afternoon transitions into nighttime. Sundowning is when your loved one is experiencing a state of confusion, anxiousness, or frustration in the early evening hours.

When your loved one has daily activities that they enjoy and their day is dynamic and engaging, they are less likely to experience sundowning. Your loved one will be calm and ready to transition into the evening and get a restful night’s sleep.

woman writing in a notebook next to her senior father with dementia

Sample Daily Routine for a Loved One with Dementia

Here is an example of what a daily routine could look like:


  • Get ready for the day. Hair and teeth brushing, bathing, dressing, and any other tasks can help your loved one feel ready.
  • Eat breakfast. You can engage your loved one by having them help with small tasks in food preparation. Share conversations with your loved one over the meal, and involve them in the clean up.
  • Plan a calm activity – like old photos, doing a craft, or listening to your loved one’s favorite music.


  • Prepare and eat lunch. Your loved one can help with the preparation here, too.
  • Plan a quiet activity to do indoors. You could do jigsaw puzzles, a scrapbooking activity, or play a word game. Then head outdoors so your loved one can get daily fresh air and exercise.
  • Schedule a restful break here. Your loved one may need to close their eyes for a short nap, or sit and relax.


  • Prepare dinner. Just like breakfast and lunch, ask your loved one to assist you with prepping the meal and cleaning up. This helps them feel involved with the process.
  • Watch a movie or play a game before getting ready for bed. After bathing, brushing teeth, and changing into pajamas, read or listen to music before sleep.

Tips for Making a Daily Routine

When you’re making a routine for your loved one, leave space for multiple daily activities and have options in mind. This can help you flow from each activity in case your loved one needs a change of pace. Here are some other helpful tips when you’re planning how to structure each day:

Flexibility Is Key

While you may have a routine, remember that your loved one’s abilities to do certain kinds of tasks can change as dementia progresses. When you’re planning a routine, include activities that can easily transition into each other, or ones that can be swapped out for what your loved one prefers that day.

Involve Your Loved One

People with dementia can sometimes feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose. You can help change that mindset or prevent those feelings when you have your loved one assist you throughout the day.

Have them help during mealtimes, from prepping the food to setting the table and cleaning up. You can also engage them with household chores, like tidying up a room or folding laundry.

You can also incorporate your loved one’s preferences into how they get ready for the day. Your loved one may have put on makeup, favorite jewelry, or a special watch – keeping these as part of their routine can help them feel confident.

Playing their favorite music, watching their favorite movie, or reminiscing over beloved childhood photos can spark their long-term memory. This feeling of familiarity is comforting and can help your loved one feel connected with their past.

When It’s Time for Specialized Memory Care

While creating routines to help care for your loved one at home may work for some time, you may notice that your loved one’s needs may be greater than you can provide. It’s selfless for caregivers to do everything they can to allow their family member to live at home for as long as possible.

If you experience caregiver burnout or your loved one needs specialized care, Westminster Place is here for you. Burnout is normal and seeking a higher level of care will support your loved one and give you the rest you need to recover.

Reaching out to Westminster Place is your next best step to taking care of your loved one and you. We will provide your loved one with personalized care that will adapt and grow with their needs and focus on providing them with vibrant programming to enhance their life each day.

Our team is also here for you and your family members. We understand that care is a team effort. We can answer your questions about your loved one and help in every way possible.

Beautiful fountains in the courtyard at Westminster Place

Presbyterian Homes Westminster Place

The Evanston Memory Care neighborhood, Foster Pavilion, provides specialized Memory Care designed to provide your loved one with joy in every activity they do. The dynamic routine allows your loved one to flow into each new activity or meal, with caring and compassionate staff ready to guide, redirect, and interact with your loved one.

At Foster Pavilion, your loved one can experience the best of our robust Memory Care program, including:

  • Music therapy
  • Dining in a soothing environment with opportunities for choices and conversation
  • Intellectual and interest-based programs
  • Outdoor activities
  • Exercise
  • Opportunities for spiritual reflection

All our Memory Care offerings are on the beautiful campus of Westminster Place. The community has plenty of calm places like gardens, fountains, and a chapel that are perfect for walking, sitting, and spending time with friends.

As a caregiver, you get peace of mind that your loved one will have the following care services in addition to our programming:

  • 24-hour security and healthcare staff
  • 24-hour access to healthcare and medical services
  • Assistance with housekeeping and daily activities
  • Medication administration
  • Health and social wellness programs

Your loved one can lead a fulfilling life at Westminster Place. To learn more about Foster Pavilion and our Memory Caret program, we invite you to contact us to schedule a tour.