Routine Chores or Inviting Rituals (Public article)

Public article

Members please log in and click this link Routine Chores or Inviting Rituals for your extended version of this article.

By Jane Verity © dementiacareinternational

“The end results of all ritual are increased balance, strength, energy and comfort.

Angeles Arrien Cultural Anthropologist

Routines vs. Rituals

In our everyday care of people with dementia, we often talk about the daily routines we have to carry out. We do not usually connect these with joy. More likely, we see these routines as chores; experiences we need to get over and done with as quickly as possible. The actual experience is not the focus.

Routines are regular, unvarying or mechanical procedures. No wonder we cringe when we hear the word routine and then tend to approach a routine job with little enthusiasm or excitement.

Rituals, on the other hand, are enriching ceremonies which:

  • lift the spirit and build trust
  • create familiarity and the joy of recognition
  • reduce insecurity and anxiety.

Creating ceremony means to transform the environment from the ordinary to the extraordinary with music, clothes, make-up, accessories, scents, lighting and other means.

It is also about the way we conduct ourselves. There is a certain celebratory experience of ease and success. Creating Ritual is about the special way in which we perform an activity and the fact that we do it in the same way every time. Rituals build companionship.

People with dementia often experience separation, misunderstanding and alienation. One way of healing such suffering is through personalised and meaningful rituals.

Personalised, Meaningful Rituals

Developing and fine-tuning personalised, meaningful rituals is not about creating rituals where ‘one size fits all’. Instead, there is a need for openness to the unique differences, preferences and possibilities that emerge through close contact with the individual. It is a process that evolves over time, starting with one or two small rituals and building on these, one by one.

Rituals are the little things we need to say and do, in the same way, every time, every day. What sets rituals apart from chores is our tone of voice and the way we add opportunities to boost self-esteem and make the person feel extra special. For example: When you add smell to a ritual – Give Eric the aftershave to hold and smell for himself, saying, ‘Doesn’t that smell fantastic?’ Then after you dab scent on him, with enthusiasm, repeat, ‘Now you smell fantastic too.’ Once you receive positive feedback from Eric – confirming this ritual really works for him, you can then add it to the enriching rituals you use together every day.

By adding special phrases, words and unique touches – repeated every day – rituals turn the mundane into personalised, meaningful experiences. The bond and positive effects on all in your care will make these extra efforts so worthwhile and may actually even save you time.

Further reading – Click topic

  • Routine Chores or Inviting Rituals Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Learn positive strategies to create successful, meaningful & enriching rituals, special tips for creating evening rituals & encouraging reluctant sleepers, handy tips for stress-free teeth cleaning, showering & toileting. Read practical advice to avoid frustration for both you & the person with dementia, tips on trigger words & phrases to avoid & suggestions for overcoming some of the challenges in personal care.)
  • How to Communicate with Someone who Can’t Speak – Public/Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Learn 4 body language techniques to show people with dementia that you are really listening; learn the importance & difference between intuition & logical, rational thinking & which is most effective in communicating with people who have dementia; learn strategies & effective questions to uncover unmet needs & to draw out the person’s feelings & needs; learn question techniques to check on your guesses & 6 steps to being a good communicator.)
  • Hugs not Drugs – Members article – Jane Verity (Discover 3 factors behind attention-seeking behaviour, the 5 secrets to ‘great’ hugs & 5 hints to check if a hug is creating discomfort in another person plus a wonderful non-threatening excuse for exchanging a big hug.)
  • Turning Hassles into Highs Members article – Jane Verity (Discover simple techniques to create sunshine in everyday tasks & situations.)
  • Successful Solutions to Showering – Public/Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Learn 10 reasons why people with dementia might refuse to shower & 10 successful solutions, plus more helpful hints & choices.)
  • Creative Thinking Solves Toilet Challenge ­– Community story (A professional carer’s tip to solving the challenge of a resident going to the toilet everywhere but in the toilet plus a fantastic question to ask when seeking constructive solutions to challenging behaviours.)
  • Ribbons Turn Around Challenging Shower Experience – Community Story – (Read how one professional care discovered successful showering through the magic of colour.)