Establishing Healthy Daily Routines for Seniors
From maintaining their professional careers to taking care of their families, most seniors have spent a lifetime accustomed to daily routines. As people age, however, the need for some of these routines diminishes. Children leave the home and people enter retirement, leaving seniors to cope with unstructured and sometimes, unpredictable, schedules. But the structure and organization of routines promotes wellness and can greatly improve health (Northwestern Medicine).
Absence of Routine is Detrimental to Your Health
According to the team at Northwestern Medicine, individuals who do not have any type of routine often suffer from:
- Stress. No routine often means having the constant worry of “when will I get it all done.”
- Poor sleep. Without a daily routine at work and/or home, you may find yourself playing catch-up with yesterday’s to-do list. If you’re always behind on what should have been done the day before, you’re likely also staying awake worrying about what didn’t.
- Poor eating. Unhealthy diets (like eating lots of fast food) become the norm if there isn’t time scheduled for grocery shopping. Quick, unhealthy substitutes become the next best food option.
- Poor physical condition. Working out usually requires some advance planning.
- Ineffective use of time. Often, no routine means you simply run out of time, leaving things undone and not making the most of your time. (Northwestern Medicine)
These stressors, combined with the natural effects of aging, can create a poor quality of life for seniors.
Can Routines Help Improve the Lives of Seniors?
According to Very Well Mind, having a routine can be helpful at any time, particularly if you are trying to establish healthy habits, however, they are most important during times of uncertainty. (Very Well Mind) As seniors age, they begin to experience the effects of mental and physical deterioration which can be both alarming and hard to manage. But, by including reliable routines throughout the day, seniors can thrive on structure and find new ways to live a fulfilled life.
What Daily Routines are Best for Seniors?
There are a number of ways seniors can plan their days to feel more structured and productive. Daily routines should be task-specific and relevant to each individual’s interests. For a well-rounded day, consider developing routines around hygiene, health, and hobbies.
Tips for Hygiene Routines
Create a hygiene task list for a morning routine. Habits can include shaving, brushing teeth, taking medications, applying makeup or styling hair, selecting fresh clothing, changing the sheets, or doing a load of laundry.
Improve physical wellbeing. Try scheduling one to two days a month that focus on improving physical appearance. This may be scheduling an appointment at the barber or salon or selecting a favorite shop to visit for a new piece of clothing.
Create a nighttime routine to improve sleep habits. This can include changing into comfortable clothing, bathing or showering, clipping nails, removing makeup, or managing a skin routine.
Tips for Health Routines
Focus on nutrition. Try meal planning for the week by preparing shopping lists and recalibrating recipes to meet new needs. Select a day or two a week to visit a local grocery store and run other errands. This is a great reason to leave the house and can help seniors get in some extra physical activity.
Include light to moderate exercise in your daily plan. Schedule in a few walks around the neighborhood or try some new senior-friendly exercises to keep the blood flowing and your muscles moving. Incorporating just 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to maintain a routine and is great for heart health!
Find ways to socialize. Connecting with others is just as important to health and wellbeing and diet and exercise. Consider scheduling weekly reoccurring calls with loved ones or friends to catch up or find new ways to socialize by going to your local senior center, enrolling in fun classes, or taking part in fitness groups.
Tips for Hobby Routines
Keep your mind sharp. Schedule daily time to focus on your brain health. Include time in your day-to-day schedule to do puzzles or brain teasers. Connect with your loved ones over board games or reading. Visit your local drugstore to find activity books that include things like word games and sudoku and commit to working on them a little each day.
Practice your hobbies to exercise motor skills. Be sure to schedule in daily time for hands-on hobbies. Really, anything can be a hobby if you are passionate about it. Many seniors enjoy hobbies like painting, crafting, collecting, cooking, or playing an instrument. Whatever it is, it should be easy for you to practice every day.
Connect with others over shared interests. Hobbies are a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Look for groups in your area that focus on your favorite hobbies. Use social media platforms like Facebook to find and connect with groups in your area and start sharing your own expertise. Try to meet monthly or weekly to add diversity to your schedule.
Helping Seniors Create and Manage Daily Routines
It isn’t always easy for seniors to manage day-to-day routines. While they may be interested in pursuing new hobbies or healthy habits, they may face physical or mental limitations that make it more difficult. But all people deserve to live happy, healthy, and fulfilled lives. Non-medical in-home caregivers offer a great opportunity to help seniors live each day to the fullest. In-home caregivers not only help with the physical demands of daily routines like transportation and activity assistance, they also offer companionship an opportunity for seniors to connect. In-home caregivers can help you or a loved one establish and maintain daily routines healthy daily routines to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Reach out to your local ameriCARE to connect with compassionate caregivers in your area and make a plan today!