Home / Blog / Why Routines Are Important for Seniors

Why Routines Are Important for Seniors

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry makes a convincing case for why routines are important for seniors. After following some 1,800 older adults, researchers determined that people who routinely rose early and stayed engaged and active the longest had a clear advantage over their peers. Seniors in this group had lower rates of both cognitive impairment and depression than those who slept in later or were more sedentary or prone to more erratic schedules. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Why Routines Are Important for Seniors

Stephen Smagula, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, explained to U.S. News & World Report that the researchers defined activity broadly. They didn’t just mean exercise. Instead, they defined activity as physical, mental, and even social stimulation. As a result, going for a walk, completing a puzzle, and enjoying a meal with friends can all count as being active.

What about routine? Getting up early, staying engaged, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule were all traits that characterized the study’s most successful seniors. Most had a general routine they followed that kept their days on track. It’s widely acknowledged that having a predictable routine can offer benefits. Regular routines provide consistency and comfort. They are associated with reduced stress, lowered anxiety, boosted productivity, and increased creativity. When you’re ready to embrace the news that routines are important for seniors, use these tips to create a personalized routine that you can enjoy.

Customize It

You get one life. Live it your way by designing a custom routine that fits you. Include the things you need to do. Also, mix in the things that you want to do. And, whenever possible, do it your way.

Be Realistic

If you’ve been completely sedentary for years, you won’t be running marathons by the end of the week. However, you might take a 10-minute walk or participate in a session of chair yoga, and that’s a start that you can build on. Be realistic as you evaluate your health and stamina. Aiming too high too quickly can result in injury, and that’s not your goal. Instead, start where you are, and move forward as you’re able to do so safely. In some cases, talking with your healthcare team about your plans may be helpful.

Keep It Simple

Lengthy lists can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t manage to mark everything off them. Elaborate plans can be frustrating, particularly when something goes wrong and prevents you from meeting your goals. Keep things simple. Start small by creating a morning routine that works for you. Then, add something else to it. Continue adding building blocks to your daily calendar at your own pace. Eventually, you’ll have a routine that works for you.

Stack Chores

Starting a new habit from scratch can be tough, especially if it’s something that you should do but aren’t particularly excited about. When you want to establish a new routine, try stacking. In other words, plan to complete it immediately after you complete a task that is already a habit. For example, imagine you struggle to drink enough water each day. One way to improve this habit through stacking is to drink a glass of water after you brush your teeth in the morning and evening.

Embrace Fun

Routine may be important, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Embrace fun, and make it part of your everyday routine. Find activities that you enjoy. Spend time with people you care about. Learn something new, play a game, or dive into the arts.

Expect Imperfections

Life is full of surprises. An overly rigid routine can be a major hindrance when something unexpected inevitably occurs. A little flexibility is vital. Expect imperfections, and give yourself room to breathe and embrace life’s pleasures. If your routine is ruffled one day, don’t panic. Tomorrow is another day, and you can restart your routine then.

Staying active and engaged seems to support a senior’s ability to stay healthy and happy. Routine is a fantastic tool for staying active and engaged, so it’s easy to see why routines are important for seniors. At The Gables on Pelham, we’re happy to provide our residents with a variety of tools and services to assist them in making the most of life. With our warm, welcoming environment and full community calendar, you’re sure to find plenty of friends and opportunities for activity. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-713-1377.