People are creatures of habit. We operate at our best when life is predictable and structured. Predictability and consistency allow us to organize our lives smoothly. They invariably bring about greater effectiveness at work and at home and put us in a better position from which to allocate our time more intelligently and to accomplish more goals.
After a brain injury, the survivor’s life often loses the routine it had before. He or she loses the daily rhythm that the survivor had grown accustomed to prior to the injury. Rather than having a schedule based on school/work activities, social plans and home responsibilities, many survivors come home to a life without any set schedule. This can be a big mistake. A lack of a routine often increases disorientation and decreases the ability to track day-to-day activities. Without a set routine, important activities may be pushed off to a later time or ignored altogether and forgotten. Some survivors even become more agitated and aggressive when their days lacks predictability. Further, a lack of a set schedule often causes greater stress on family and caregivers. For instance, without a set schedule a survivor may argue with a spouse about when they should practice walking skills, since there is no agreed upon time to practice.
It is highly advisable for survivors and their family members to create a daily schedule to help incorporate routine back into the survivor’s life. The daily schedule should be written and placed in a prominent location in the home, such as on a refrigerator door or on a dry erase board. Creating the schedule should be a joint activity between the brain injury survivor and his or her family. Mealtime, personal hygiene tasks, taking medication and wake/bedtimes should be at approximately the same time each day. A set time each day should be created for activities such as physical exercises, cognitive exercises and recreational activities. Doctor’s appointments, therapist visits and family events should be written on the schedule. Schedules should be made for the entire week, including the weekend. Although some brain injury survivors will initially try to rebel against a set schedule (“I am a grown man, how dare you tell me what to do!”), survivors generally get into the new schedule without too much difficulty. Survivors with memory deficits or disorientation tend to take more time to get used to the new schedule. Once the schedule is in place, survivors often show improved overall functioning.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org