I have always been a routine gal, but now what my mother-in-law with Dementia and Alzheimer's has moved in, we are even more regimented than ever! Wrangling kids, cats, dogs and Mom makes for fun time in the morning. Includes tips and ideas for setting up your morning routine!
My Morning Caregiver Daily Routine
My goal for the morning is to get everyone up and at 'em with a minimum of fuss and mess. With that in mind, here is what I do!
Getting Me Up
My day starts somewhere between 5-5:30am depending on if the cats get up early and fuss for attention. I lounge around in bed for about a half an hour reading the news and easing into the day.
Once I am up, I get showered and dressed, brush my teeth and do everything but makeup (I wish I did it right away, but that would just be too much for me early).
Morning Pets and Dishes
Then I head outside to let the doggies out (I have two and I grab Mom's dog!) Once back inside I put away the dishwasher dishes, do any in the sink and feed the pets (in addition to the dogs we have 3 cats, a turtle and fish).
Once I finish all this, I plop down for a little bit to check emails and chat with friends online (staying connected is SO important).
Getting Mom Up
Honestly, up until this step everything runs like clockwork. The pets are happy to be fed, the house looks okay at this point and I am all spiffed up… now the battles begin!
As with many older Alzheimer patients Mom doesn't really like getting cleaned up and I am finding out that I am a clean freak.
So we have paired getting up with at least changing her clothes. Left to her own devices she would wear the same clothes at least 3-4 days in a row, but I make everyone change into clean clothes daily (crazy right?)
Funny as it sounds, I like when she has been incontinent overnight because this takes the “changing clothes” question off the table. We do a “birdbath” wash with a washcloth and soap and then clean clothes.
If she hasn't been incontinent then there is more of a battle and I can't always get the birdbath in, but I can generally get her into clean clothes, sometimes teeth brushed and occasionally hair brushed.
If she is relatively clean I let her be!
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We already had a medicine routine before Mom came. My son has ADHD and takes a pill at 8:20 every morning, before he goes to school. We have this set in stone and just added grammy's first pill to that time (she takes her thyroid medicine an hour before the rest).
Second set of pills comes an hour later.
Mom is not much of a breakfast eater and has very little appetite so we have to have a selection of things that she might like to nibble on! This morning she had half a cheese and crackers Lunchable (so nice because it is just pop out of fridgie and go!)
Some days she won't eat… sigh.
One of the reasons she fell in the first place was because she was weak from not eating. One of my main goals is to get food into the woman, I am not picky about nutrition! Feeding her and my 11 year old son are about the same level of frustration!
Tips & Ideas For Your Morning Routine
Okay, that is about it and I can get to work on my blogs! But what about you? How do you get a routine established?
Maybe you are not a “do everything the same way every day” kind of gal. If you are just getting started with routines, then don't try to implement all of mine at once! Pick one or two and then get them settled into a pattern. Maybe start with getting up at the same time every morning!
I read the best book about habits, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin! She is the one that taught me to “pair” things together. For a literal example I paired Mom's first pill with my son's pill. But I also paired changing clothes with going potty in the morning.
Adding In To What You Do Already
This is a little bit like pairing, but more so about you than them! I was going to do Mom's first pill whenever she got up, but that would have made my morning routine super long which is not fair to me. While I am willing to compromise, I still need time to do my work too!
Pick Your Battles
Okay, let's get real, you aren't going to be able to “make” your loved one do anything. You can cajole, ask or beg, but at the end of the day all you can do is hope for the best. So I have picked a couple of battles.
- Cleanliness… I don't let my kids go dirty for days, so Mom has to wear clean clothes everyday… period. Also, there is a once a week bath/wash hair, even if it is a battle of wills all day, I get her cleaned up.
- Eating… I spend most of the day trying to tempt Mom to eat. If she doesn't have any food she doesn't have any energy to do anything else, so this is one where I will do anything to find something that she likes to eat!
Some battles I don't take on… buying on the internet, she (fortunately) has plenty of money to shop online and it makes her happy! Also I let her boss her little dog around. My dogs can go wherever they want, but she wants little Maxie right by her most of the time so we let her grab him (she has had him a couple of years so he is used it anyways!)
Make sure to only pick one or two things that are “must dos” so that you don't start to seem like a heartless boss to your loved one!
Okay, last but not least, understand that there really are only so many hours in the day and you can't always get everything done the way you “want” them to!
Taking care of a family member at home means that you will have to make concessions. For me that means letting go of controlling everything AND asking for help from my kids, husband and friends.
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