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Morning Rituals – Setting the Pace for the Day
We all have rituals and routines in life that form part of our usual day. Many are such embedded habits that we don't even notice we do them until someone else points them out. Within my training sessions I often ask the group to share the first three things they do on waking in the morning. I get them to think about it in fine detail with questions like; do you look at the clock or where are your slippers kept? Invariably we do exactly the same thing following the same pattern every morning.
For many older people, adhering to these early morning rituals gets their day off to a good start. For those living with dementia it is even more important to follow the rituals that they are used to or the day may not start at all.
My mother lived with vascular dementia in her later life. She lived alone, very successfully, in sheltered housing for many years. Her morning rituals had been set throughout her married life. For 65 years the Daily Mirror was delivered through the letter box. She would settle in her dressing gown with a weak milky cup of tea, her glasses and a Biro to do the quick crossword on the back page. Only when it was finished would she head to the bathroom to get washed and dressed.
Although I was Mum's main carer, the family were very involved too. Every evening one of us would go in after work to help prepare her dinner and check that all was well. If I arrived to find her still in her dressing gown I knew immediately that the paper hadn't been delivered! That's how important her rituals were in supporting her short term memory loss. This made me acutely aware of the need to know the fine detail of the morning rituals for anyone that is cared for.
Gathering this level of detail in care settings can be a challenge, but it is well worth doing particularly when someone is first settling into a care home or being supported at home by a new care package. Relatives and carers may well be a good source of information. Preparing a set of questions for them to answer in detail about daily rituals will help them to give you the level of information you are looking for. This may help to reassure them that you do care about getting it right for the individual every time. If their day starts well they may well be more amenable for the rest of the day. If they are in the right frame of mind then they are more likely to engage in all the other activity that might be on offer.
NAPA offers an Auditing Service and I often look for this level of detail in a care plan as it is a good indicator of how person centred a service really is.
If you want to know more about how to become a member and what we can offer, visit the NAPA website.
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