For people with dementia, a calendar-clock is more than a convenience; it is an anchor. In early stages of dementia, it’s easy to lose track of time. In the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, a loved one may frequently drift into the past.
A well-placed clock-calendar keeps a person with dementia oriented and in the present.
Serious memory loss can result in the repeated asking of, “What time is it?” or “What day is today?“. Calendar-clocks always have the answer. They are patient and ever-convenient, no matter how quickly and no matter how often a person forgets.
Calendar-clocks prominently display the month, day, date and time. Some also add the year, which can be helpful when a loved one gets lost in the past.
Are calendar-clocks too complicated for a person with dementia? More elaborate calendar-clocks may add weather and other information. Though this provides an extra connection to the outside world, too much information can be more confusing than helpful.
A healthy balance between simplicity and thoroughness can be found in calendar-clocks like the one to the right. It prominently displays the more important time and day in large letters and numbers, while providing the less important, but relevant, month, day and year in small letters and numbers. It uses no abbreviations and can be set to any of eight languages. The language feature is particularly important in dementia, where a person’s childhood mother-tongue language tends to be retained the longest and is easiest to work with.
Keep in mind that digital clocks became common in the 1970s. People born before then will sometimes be more comfortable with a traditional “analog” clock, with two hands and 12 numbers.
There are a variety of “Day Clocks” available which emphasize the day of the week. Some display the day of the week, while others also tell you whether it is morning, afternoon, evening or night, and still more combine the day of the week with the time of day. Here are illustrations of all 3 types:
Whatever you get, keep in mind to check the size of the display. A large-number display is easy to read from a distance. Having the month spelled out in letters instead of numbers can be an important advantage to many people. Bold, high-contrast letters and numbers can make a difference to the eye.
Figure out your needs and where you plan to place the clock. Some clocks run on battery and some need an outlet nearby. Ask yourself if you want to hang it on a wall or stand it on its own. Then choose the right clock and never lose track of time again.
Just say, “Alexa, what time is it?” Amazon’s Echo Show will answer in a pleasant voice, to anyone in the room, from almost any distance. The time and date are also displayed on the screen.
We recently gave my dad the gift of Amazon’s Echo Show. With the Echo Show, the time is always on display near where he spends most of his day. Whenever he asks me, “What time is it,” I say, “Alexa, what time is it?” and the Echo Show tells us in a sweet, ladylike voice. He gets the hang of it quickly enough, and the next time he wants the time, date or weather, he asks Alexa directly.
|ECHO 5||ECHO 8||ECHO 10||ECHO 15|
LED Day Clocks
LED day clocks are great for the visually impaired, with their large, bright displays.
LED day clocks offer other conveniences, such as having an alarm clock bed-side. When a person with dementia wakes up in the morning, it is very helpful to have the day on display in addition to the time.
Low-Cost Alternatives: Android and iPad Tablets
What if a caregiver did a one-time set-up of a calendar-clock app on a tablet? They could simply hang it on the wall or stand it on any little table. The person with dementia would not have to do a thing. It is an inexpensive way to get a full-featured personalized calendar-clock for under $50.
There are a wealth of free “clock-apps” in the Google Playstore, along with some rather inexpensive tablet displays. Though many of these apps display digital clocks, some artistic ones have good ol’ fashioned “analog” clock displays with 2 arms and 12 numbers in a bold circle.
Analog displays, with a round clock face and an hour & minute hands, are important to many elderly people who grew up with this style of telling time.
The bottom line? One can get a bright, beautiful, helpful calendar-clock for under $40, complete.
Best Tablet Clocks – Free
Here is a sampling of the best Tablet apps for people with dementia.
TABLETS: If you don’t have a spare tablet lying around to hang as a wall-clock, there are a wealth of cost-saving tablets to match every size, style and budget. The following are Amazon’s best values:
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“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Albert Einstein
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2-in-1 Calendar Clock + Day Clock
New to the world of Day Clocks is the 2-in-1 clock. For the early stages of dementia, it functions as a calendar clock, displaying the day, date and time in large type. For the later stages of dementia, the clock can be switched to Dayclock mode, where it will say a more simple message, such as: “Now it’s Thursday Afternoon”. This orients the person with dementia with the minimum amount of information. Check out the following video to see how it works.