At the weekend I fully experienced the notion of the importance of routine. I finally finished one room in my new house – the conservatory. It had been empty since moving in so I’d only gone in there to access the garden.
At the weekend the furniture was delivered. It looked brilliant. It’s the ideal place to read the newspaper and listen to my podcasts.So why havn’t I used it yet?
Answer –Because I forget it’s there and because I’ve been reading the papers and listening to podcasts upstairs looking out onto the treetops. This has become the routine. I didn’t even realise I wasn’t using it until I suddenly remembered it was there….Whereas pre dementia I would have simply changed my routine, now routine is important so as not to confuse and feel settled – not something I’d fully appreciated. I did try and change my routine and read the newspaper there but it just didn’t feel comfortable in a bizarre sort of way.
I can now fully understand the fact that people in the late stages wouldn’t take advantage of a wonderful new space you might have created for them. You’d be disappointed if you’d spent lots of time, energy and money on creating a space but then you’re loved one appears not to like it. It wouldn’t be that they don’t like it – it’simply not familiar.
Don’t expect the person with dementia to automatically adapt to a new routine. It goes back to what I said last week about emotion and feelings taking over. It won’t feel right to read the papers there if they’ve always read the papers somewhere else that felt comfortable – the new area may not be thought of as the right place. It may simply cause confusion. They may get used to the new routine, but it may also cause distress in the process. So when, for the kindest of reason, you think you’ve created a wonderful space for a loved one, at the same time you have to think of a new routine to be associated with that space.
What I must now do is find a new activity that currently doesn’t have a place to make use of this new environment. I think it’ll be a great room to sit and listen to radio programmes. I also need to purposely think to go in there when I find something new to do.
I would never have thought of this as an issue before and maybe it isn’t for everyone……but now I’ve experienced it first hand…