Calendars, diaries and reminders

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Linbrusco, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    #1 Linbrusco, Jan 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
    Not really sure what to do here as Mum seems to be fast losing ability to understand visual reminders.

    Diaries/Notebooks don't work, as she puts them down, forgets that they are there or loses them.
    Some days she is confused as to what day it is, and some days she isn't.
    She has a clock with time, day, date and month.

    Mum has a calendar on her wall with Holidays dates and Birthdays. (She loves the pictures on the calendar and won't see it taken down)
    On her fridge I also have a whitboard calendar.
    She insists on everything being written up, so she knows what she is doing from day to day, and the next week, but I think visually its too much to interpret.
    This calendar has her activity groups noted, shopping days, the days I'm at work, and any other important events.

    She also has another whitboard, which has reminders like .. have you taken your Morning tablets, Are you wearing your safety alarm, We're going shopping at 9am. etc

    If I don't write things down for her she gets frustrated.
    If I do write things down for her she gets frustrated because it has to be in really simple language, and often what someone may write she doesn't understand.
    She can tell the time ( generally) but if you write 9.30am she doesn't always understand A.M
    If you write "half past nine" she does, if you write 1/2 past 9 she doesn't.
    If I write the time as " half past nine" she takes offence. Why am I writing the time like that, she knows how to tell the time :)

    Its all getting a bit complicated trying to find out what works and what doesn't.

    Has anyone else got any suggestions?

    Many thanks
  2. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    I have a magnetic whiteboard and the things are written on magnetic strips which means they can be moved around and recycled - bottom to top.

    You can then insert one off appointments, etc, etc. without having to rewrite everything.

    There is a stick on picture frame type magnet thing which can be opened up to give urgent messages. Really just the ones like. I am at the shop ...back at 4.00 type of messages.

    We have a dementia clock at the top which gives the date and the day.

    I had to manufacture the strips myself by sticking drywipe magic whiteboard strips onto magnetic strips.

    As things are reused so you can do better handwriting. You can even use permanent marker for things that will not change like phone contact numbers.

    Really I would like a computer program to display this. If I had enough time I could code it. After two years this seems to be something that works for us. You can also write little messages like so and so phoned for a chat to perk people up.
    You won some money on the premium bonds. Messages don't all have to be bad.
  3. Hibni

    Hibni Registered User

    Sep 16, 2013
    I would be very interested if you ever got round to coding such a program. I have an old laptop running 24/7 displaying day, date and time in Mum's bedroom. It would be great if I could add one line messages.
  4. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    I'm finding leaving notes difficult now too so would appreciate guidance from those who have been there. I write a daily note for mum which I put onto a clipboard (which she still needs encouragement to find on her coffee table). Simple stuff like "today is Tuesday and I'll be at work until 5pm and will be back with you at 5.30pm". It worked for a while but now she's phoning from about 3pm onwards and saying stuff like "you didn't tell me you were at work" or "you're normally home by now, so where are you?". She doesn't seem to understand the things I've written.

    How have others managed?
  5. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013

    At first my husband read the entries On a big family calendar.Thien we switched to writing on a chalk board, Then had to use capitals, reminders getting simpler all the time.

    Now he doesn't look, or if he does he says he can't read it, and why don't I write more clearly?

    For important things I now write in thick black felt tip on a big piece of card, and prop it up by the sink in a good light.( cardboard from Mail order parcels make good notice boards, or the unprinted backs from cereal boxes.)
  6. SitsThere

    SitsThere Registered User

    Jan 7, 2013
    Like most people here, we've gradually worked through all kinds of reminder methods and seen them fall into disuse.

    Mum is now in a residential nursing home so mercifully we no longer need to remind her about medication. These days I don't try to give her a detailed calendar because she can't cope with more than one future plan at a time, but I do still write forthcoming events on the calendar on her wall (which she is very fond of) and if I'm going to be away for more than one day I write that down too. This doesn't prevent her from phoning me to ask where I am but I reassure her each time that if she can't contact me, she can look at the calendar to see where I am. The dementia clock with time and day sounds like a good idea but again, she'd need to remember to look at it.

    The most important thing seems to be to reassure someone who's struggling with time, date, whereabouts that all is well and they don't have to take responsibility for remembering everything. I am so thankful that mum now has kind people around her all the time who can reassure her in this way (or better still, distract her) when we're not around to do it.

    This seems like a good moment to mention that after many months of agonising about what would be best for mum and how to persuade her, the place where she is now has proved to be a life-saver (probably literally in her case in view of the falls, drinking, loneliness and starvation that were going on) and best of all, she is recognising herself how much better she feels and starting to say that she hopes she need not go home. So much of the time I've posted here to say things seemed hopeless - so it's wonderful to be able to say that things now seem so much better. Mum is looking better, taking some pride in her appearance again, and above all, she has recovered her dignity. Seeing her in hospital after the fall in September I couldn't have believed what a difference the move to residential care has made. We have been incredibly lucky.
  7. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    Your last paragraph is so good to read, Sits There.
    I'm glad your mum has shown such a big improvement, you must be so relieved.
    Thanks for adding this.
  8. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    Sits there, that's so good to read, Thankyou.
  9. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    We had similar difficulties
    We worked through them by trial and error and eventually what worked for mum was
    a simple laminated week calendar which had Days of week at top and each day divided into morning and afternoon. Nothing more than that. Used a wipe off pen and only ever filled in one day at a time and only ever one thing in one slot ie Monday morning - lunch club bus pick up

    Monday afternoon Christine here at tea time

    Really simple stuff and she could cope.

    Then our absolute life saver was post it notes - don't forget to throw the old ones away though or chaos will follow lol
    Used them for all sorts - so note on her trolley by side of her - really short and simple saying Lee here at supper time (6o'clock) (we tried to avoid using times because of the day night thing but sometimes would put it in brackets as she could still tell the time on the large clock placed just above the TV in front of her direct line of vision)
    or a note on front lobby saying 'Please don't go out Christine will be here soon'

    Or a note on bedroom door saying 'No, it isn't bedtime yet' lol that was to prevent 5pm bedtimes if we could

    You might find it helpful
    we always used a thick black marker. even though she could read because it just brought her attention back. If she got bored with the standard yellow notes and ignored them I would change colour for a bit lol

    hope it helps her
  10. AnneED

    AnneED Registered User

    Feb 19, 2012
    East Yorkshire UK
    This was very interesting to read as my mum is also a diary/calendar/ clock/paper sort of person. She has had a Dairy Diary for many years and these days she writes little notes to herself in it (Anne arrived at 10.30).
    However all of these things don't continue to work forever and she often loses track of time and either misses things or gets things wrong.
    She still usually knows the date by looking at her paper when it arrives through the letter box and that links in with the days on her diary.

    We do find however that:
    She writes all kinds of local events in the diary so it's hard to know what she is actually going to with supportive friends
    She will miss birthdays, or send two cards, or get it right - very much a chance thing
    She will remove notes about things and throw them away because she doesn't 'like' them (the 'Do not switch off' note on the heating for instance)

    You just need to move on to other options when things don't work any more and the last of these is residential care - but it doesn't mean that the person can't have all the reassuring reminders of their everyday routine around them, as has been mentioned.
  11. #11 DazeInOurLives, Jan 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
    Digital solution to calendar problems - NO computer knowledge or input needed.

    We found the perfect solution a few years ago and it is still working. It is called and uses Mum's old iPad and her old iMac as a digital photo frame. The screens show images alternating with a digital calendar. Both the images and the calendar I control with my computer or my phone; I can add items on her calendar, reminder notes, lovely messages, photos of her grandchildren (seconds after they were taken) and old familiar photos with captions.

    It works wonders as it is entertaining as well as functional - it has helped keep Mum orientated but as importantly it gives her conversation in her rather limited world. Her son in Australia can send photos of his children as soon as they are taken; she is thrilled to see them and talks to them and waves at them with a huge smile on her face.

    The calendar can be changed from moment to moment, have regular features and always show the day and date across the top. It only shows that day so the information is not overwhelming.

    All the settings are customisable...Mindings has genuinely kept Mum at home and independent for much longer than she would have coped without.

    It is currently free to use and just needs wifi (maybe a kind neighbour could offer to share their wifi?) and an old pc or tablet.

    Can't recommend it more highly - I am just a happy customer, no personal interest in this at all.

  12. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    My mum likes to write it all down herself on a pad by the phone, and we update her calendar. I have to repeat the day and time repeatedly till she feels confident to write details down. It takes a while but works.
    My mum is nearly 88 and has never used a computer and hates all newfangled things but copes with her old phone OK.
  13. Nasus

    Nasus Registered User

    May 12, 2010
    You've had some great suggestions. My father had a similar deterioration as time went on. I used the overall calendar to pass messages about simple events (singing club) towards the end even when he was in a nursing home. He also loved the pictures - the last one he had was old cars and the staff used to joke with him about them. In respect of medication I needed to insist on a carer to take this on at a certain point as it was obvious that Dad was forgetting, then taking the medication twice, which upset his blood pressure etc. The reminder pack can help for a while and I think you can get some which will only open when the medication is due, but I'm sure my Dad would have found that frustrating. He liked (to think he was) being in control.
    Keep positive and simple. Speaking is easier than messages so all carers need to assist you. Ring your relative before they ring you or put your phone off/ (wait for voice mail and ring back).
  14. Gezedka

    Gezedka Registered User

    Jan 29, 2013
    Alarm Reminders over the phone

    I set up different clock alarms on my Mother's phone and recorded voiced reminders as alarm tunes.

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