Thursday, June 28, 2018

Routine Helps Us Cope

Missouri weather is well known for its extremes. Our dog likes to hang out on the deck while we go to town, but sometimes, like today with a 100+ index, it just isn’t a good idea. Recently, Harold built a “room” for her in the basement where she can stay while we make short trips to town. We furnished it with a chair, a dog bed, and toys.

This morning, I took the dog outside. She immediately trotted toward the garage, went down the steps to the basement, and stopped in front of the basement door. I was surprised that she had noticed we were getting ready to go somewhere and led the way to her room. Although we’d only used the room a few times, she already knew the routine.

Routines can become boring and sometimes we feel compelled to shake things up a bit to keep life interesting. But there’s something to be said for the stability and comfort of knowing our day is going to click along as expected.

Daily routines keep our lives running smoothly, especially if we have a loved one with dementia. Having set times for meals, bathing, dressing, activities, and bedtime helps both the caregiver and their loved one with dementia make it through the day.

Keeping a routine is helpful for a person who becomes confused. With subtle help and reminders, your loved one can maintain independence for as long as possible. It is important to be flexible enough to deal with the unexpected.

We all fall into patterns of routine. For me, it’s to put on a pot of coffee first thing in the morning. I don’t feel quite human until after my first cup of coffee.

A few days ago, I squeezed out the last few grounds of coffee from the canister and knew I had to refill it. While we were in the middle of fixing biscuits and sausage gravy, I decided it would be better to get that chore out of the way after I’d already downed a cup of coffee. I brought in a new can of coffee and grabbed the tab on the foil seal.

Coffee shot out of that can with all the force of a bottle rocket. Coffee grounds pummeled my apron, my chest, down my blouse, all over the counter, and of course, all over the floor I’d mopped the evening before. Talk about a mess! Talk about ruining my sleepy-eyed early morning routine.

After that, Murphy’s Law kicked in. While Harold was stirring gravy, I placed the biscuit baking sheet on the unused burners. “It’s hot,” I said. He accidently touched his arm to the sheet, jerked his hand, and gravy went flying. Awe, how much better it would have been if our routine had not been thrown out of kilter.

Routine and flexibility are two sides of the same coin. For those of us who prefer calm to drama, routine is our friend and flexibility keeps us from freaking out when things go wrong.

Sometimes we just have to clean up the coffee grounds, change our clothes, and jump in the shower. Before you know it, you are back on track to have a normal day.  

Copyright © June 2018 by L.S. Fisher

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