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Common causes of changes to an older adult's daily routine

Later life might bring changes in the daily routine of elderly loved ones. Read how you can help them cope with these changes.

February 01, 2023

Woman consoling sad old woman

Physical changes and health complications often result from ageing, which can lead to changes in our daily routine. Here are some of the most common causes and what you can do to help if these changes are a concern. 

Loss of confidence and independence

Many older people lose confidence, sometimes caused by an illness, fall or other incidents. Decreasing mobility can also affect a person's confidence as they become aware they are less steady on their feet.  

As they lose confidence, they may become less independent and unable to perform day-to-day activities without support. These activities may range from giving up driving, becoming less able to do the gardening and other chores to getting dressed independently.

Becoming more dependent on others may affect their mood as our freedom and independence are connected to our sense of identity.

Health issues

Common health conditions like hearing loss, arthritis, heart ailments and cataracts can negatively impact an older adult's sense of wellbeing and independence.

Sometimes the impact of a health condition on their daily routine may be relatively minor. For example, getting out of an armchair less frequently because it has become more difficult without support. Other routine changes due to health may be more significant, for example, needing the toilet more regularly at night.

Mobility issues

Ageing impacts bone density, muscle mass and strength, making joints stiffer and less flexible. These physiological changes affect mobility in older adults, ultimately impacting their independence, as moving freely is crucial for carrying out day-to-day activities and living independently.  

Moreover, mobility restrictions have been associated with falls, sometimes leading to hospitalisation and decreased quality of life. 

Old man with mobility issues

Cognitive decline

Cognitive health refers to the ability to think, learn, and reflect. It's a crucial aspect of performing day-to-day routine activities. 

Age-related cognitive declines can range from mild impairments, such as overall slowness in thinking and retaining information, to advanced dementia. These behavioural changes might be to the extent that they start interfering with the daily routines of the elderly. 


Certain medications might cause side effects like weight changes, dizziness and falls, and changes in memory which might lead to a decline in confidence in performing normal day-to-day activities. 

Social isolation

Social interaction sometimes becomes more limited with age. For older people living alone, their carer might be the only person they interact with daily, leading them to feel lonely. According to a study by Age UK, more than 2 million people above 75 live alone, and more than a million older adults go over a month without interacting with a family member, friend, or neighbour. Social isolation and loneliness may affect your older relatives' physical and mental health, causing heart issues, cognitive decline, and depression. 

Sleep troubles

Our sleeping habits changes as we age, and older adults may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night. As a result, they tend to wake up more frequently at night and early in the morning. These changes might happen due to less production of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone, in older adults. 

Sleeping difficulties might lead to insomnia and depression. If your elderly loved one is experiencing sleep disorders, it's important to consult a doctor.

What should you do if you notice changes in routine?

You should always raise your concerns with a health professional if you are unsure about the causes or effects of changes in daily routine.

In other circumstances, there may be things you can suggest or minor adjustments that will encourage them to be more active as part of their daily routine.

  1. Introduce simple strength and balance exercises such as arm curls or heel raises. These are effective in improving balance as well as reducing health complications.
  2. If they love outdoor activities and their health allows, encourage short walks with neighbours or friends.
  3. The NHS recommends sitting exercises to improve strength and flexibility. These are beneficial if you cannot get out of the house as much as you like and can be part of a daily routine.
  4. There are hobbies and interests, such as doing puzzles, singing and older adult exercise classes, that can bring physical and mental health benefits. Sometimes a little gentle encouragement is needed.
  5. If your loved one has changed their routine because they are worried about living alone, then an emergency alarm for the elderly can be reassuring. There are also smart technology devices like Taking Care Sense that will monitor the home and the person's routine and make you aware of any changes that might indicate a problem

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

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