A Digital Clock, Watch or Calendar to Keep Time with Dementia

Before Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis she lived alone and called me first thing every morning to ask what day it was.  Actually, she sometimes called 5 or 6 times in the morning to learn the day, date and time.

After awhile, it became a real nuisance. I knew mom had a large, colorful Cukoo Clock that crowed way too loudly every hour for 24 times a day. Now, that was a real nuisance. I couldn’t imagine why that didn’t catch her attention for day / date/ time.  Why didn’t she turn to check that darn crowing clock.

As I look back now, I can hardly believe that I was so annoyed because she couldn’t remember to take her medication every day! In hindsight, if she couldn’t remember what day it was or what year it was or even what time it was, how could she possibly remember whether she’d taken her pills for that day?

The person with Alzheimer’s not only forgets to look at the Calendar, but often forgets how to read a calendar or the round face on a clock with hands. They lose their “sense of time” in general and the hands on a clock are totally useless.

Mom would suppose that the 6th day of the month on the calendar referred to the 6th month of the year. If it was the 10th of January, Mom would point to the 10 on the calendar and ask, “So it’s October now?” Numbers, Dates, Calendars all caused colossal confusion for Mom. A standard calendar became useless.

It was easier for Mom to call me and ask the day, date and time every morning!

The problem with that solution was that Mom would quickly forget she had called–then call again and again and again throughout the morning.  The bigger problem was that Mom was too confused and embarrassed by the situation to tell me that she could no longer read a calendar or clock or watch.

Once I understood that she could no longer use a calendar or read the hands on a clock, all of our confusing conversations about day, date and time finally made sense. Regrettably, this didn’t occur until Mom finally came to live with us. Mom gets a Watch that can Really Tell Time!

Since some of you have the same issue with your loved one, I’ve had many requests for digital calendars and clocks and watches without hands.

Below are a few other posts and articles about this same issue with Day, Date, Time and Calendars– and how I finally discovered that my Mom could no longer use a wrist watch with hands.

Related Posts about Alzheimer’s and Dementia and “telling time”:

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Dynamic Living Oversized 16-inch X 7.5-inch Digital Led Calendar Wall Clock


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  • Easy to read display
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Now this is a huge clock! Any Alzheimer’s or Dementia patient would love this clock! Easy to read, totally digital – calendar and time. It’s a winner!

For more information

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Comments

  1. I need a watch that shows the day of the week the time and AM or PM. You would think this would be easy but it is for someone with poor vision. The ones i find have way too much useless info or one of the above is too small to read. Any suggestions. The talking one is okay but it needs to look like a regular watch or my mom wont wear it.

    • Hello Ana, I sure hear you on this one. I had a digital clock with Day and Date and Time in my living room when Mom lived with me, so she was happy with the small letters and numbers on the digital watch. I checked at Amazon and most of them do have too much information for the smaller face of the clock.

      You know, Ana, a few of the men’s watches aren’t Too Big and have much better letters. Have you checked those?

      ~Sandy

  2. daniel says:

    All of the clocks shown here would be very confusing for an individual with alzheimer’s or other dementia. There is too much information displayed in an abbreviated and congested manner which would be difficult for an alzheimer’s sufferer to sort out. No one has come up with a simple digital weekly calendar that displays the day of the week in it’s complete form on one line and the month and date below also displayed un-abbreviated? There’s enough of our population suffering form this disease to warrant a simple calendar.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Daniel, I do agree with you. My Mom sort of lost her sense of time in degrees. One clock would be good for awhile, then another. But finally, sense of time becomes a real abstract to most with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. My Mom liked the large Block clock with day, date, time–but she was only able to discern the number and letters for a few months.

      So for sure, any clock chosen will only be temporary and will vary according to the speed of that persons memory loss.

  3. I need one that largely displays AM & PM, so my mother stops calling me at 6 in the morning to see how my day was, and stops calling her cousin at 8 in the evening to apologize for not coming over for coffee. She’s getting the time of day confused. It’s driving me bonkers.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      I certainly understand. My Mom was the same way. She called every morning and multiple times each day to ask me day and date. The person with Alzheimer’s can lose their sense of time.

      The most important thing to note when they lose a sense of time is their medications. If they are taking medication, they often forget when to take it and if they have already taken it. This could produce an over-dose situation or someone with Alzheimer’s who isn’t taking their medication at all.

  4. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death & there are currently no effective treatments. Please share this video and one thing that you never want to forget to help end Alzheimer’s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeHTTonG6co&feature=player_embedded

  5. http://www.clocksforalzheimers.com/

    here’s a link to a clock that just has the day of week. Kind of nice.

  6. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.This is really great. Keep doing what you’re doing!!Thank you.

  7. Arissa says:

    My mom had me buy batteries for her watches and then all of her watches were “broken” because she couldn’t read the time. She complained about the nice digital clock I put in her room (after requesting it) and wanted the old fashioned kind. I bought a big old clock and the next day she said something was wrong with it. Needless to say I went online and found a talking watch and talking clock. The clock she can use because it only has 1 giant green button on it that will speak the time to her. The watch – well that was waste because unfortunately, there are (2) small buttons on the side of the face and she spent so much time messing with it and only hitting the actual button 3 times in one day so she was frustrated. So looking on the web again – I can’t find any watch out there that have 1 “large” button for a person to push to find out the time only. If anyone knows of one, please share the information. And remember caretakers – take care of YOU too!

  8. Debbie says:

    This clock is nice, but even better woud be a clock a little smaller in size, my mother isn’t blind… with the entire day of the week written, not just the abreviation. My mother calls me all the time because she cannot keep track of which day it is. The time is not really important as she has severel clocks. It’s the day of the week she cannot keep track of. She is also an imigrant and as she has become elderly and suffering from dementia the english language is slipping. That is why it would be nice to have a clock with the entire word. I may buy it just because I cannot find anything better. You would think one could. There are more clocks advertiing “alzheimer awarness” than acutal clocks for the people that suffer. Gosh!

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Hi Debbie,
      I understand. We wish the simple purchase of a digital clock would fix the problem, but that is seldom the entire issue. My mom did really well for awhile with my digital wrist watch but as Alzheimer’s progressed the problems become much worse than the hands on a clock.

      As you say, they forget where to look for the clock, and the day of the week as well. If I told my Mom the day of the week, she would hang up and call back because that knowledge is gone in a few minutes.

      Oh, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have them lose their memory of English. I’ve heard that before though. I believe they usually revert to their native language as they forget English. I hope you’re able to speak her native language.

      Take care Debbie and keep us updated–
      All our best wishes with your mom,
      Sandy

  9. I need a digital calendar with the day spelled out. My Dad has called me at least 6 times a
    Day for the last few days even though he has a digital clock. He doesn’t know the difference
    Between the day and the time, I.e. 1-3 tues 10:30. He often thinks the 10:30 means October 30
    I agree we need something that says – today is Wednesday, January 3 without the time.
    Any suggestions on where to find.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Hello Sue,
      I certainly understand. I remember when my Mom called me every day, several times a day, to ask the day and date. I know it seems very sad, but often when they forget to look at the calendar or can’t comprehend the day from the calendar, they also have issues with their “sense of time.”

      I didn’t realize it, because my Mom didn’t live with me–but by the time she was calling me so often for the day and date–she really shouldn’t have been living alone at all. Since she no longer had a sense of time, she also lost track of when she had last eaten or taken her medicine or showered or changed clothes.

      It’s not uncommon for them to fool us. We think they are coping just fine, when in reality they are really lost as far as time goes; time of day, passage of time, when things occurred in the past and where they are in the present.

      I have found some really nice calenders and calender clocks though and recommend them often. You might want to try one with a day/ date attribute and see if that helps your dad. If he continues to call and request the same information, then you’ll know there is more involved than his inability to read the clock.

      Here are some really nice clocks that I’ve recommended previously. Most have free shipping, front door delivery. Amazon makes shopping very convenient with quick delivery and no hassles.

      Digital Clocks with Day, Date and Time — Easy to Read and Understand

      All our best wishes with your dad. I know how heartbreaking it is to be unable to help as much as we’d like.

  10. I know my Dad will love this clock! It is big and easy to read with just the needed information. My Dad has a big clock, but the light only goes on when it is PM and he forgets if it is AM orPM so the indicators should solve that! I have looked for quite a few hours on the web for this clock! Thank you so much for sharing your information so I did not get him a Christmas present that would only confuse him! I can’t wait to give it to him!

  11. Frankly almost all of the clocks I’ve seen that are supposedly good for this sort of thing have WAY too much information and the layout isn’t simple enough for dementia sufferers. I’d like a REALLY simple clock that shows time, day, and most important: AM or PM!! I get soooooo many calls at 3:15 AM!!!

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Yes, I think you’re right. My Mom wanted the day and date and not so much the time. Mom was better with the digital clock, but if she wasn’t looking directly at the clock–she’d forget it was there.

      You don’t dare move anything away from its customary position. So there is no total cure-all for the day/date issue. We just keep trying.

      Best,
      Sandy

  12. does anyone make a clock that displays LARGE FULL DAYS OF THE WEEK? Like instead of displaying ‘Wed’ or ‘THUR’, does anyone make one that says “WEDNESDAY” or “THURSDAY”?

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Hi Dave,
      I’ve searched through many clocks but the largest digital I’ve found, with day and date included, is the clock I have on the front page of the website. I believe you saw it in this article also. Unfortunately, most manufacturers abbreviate the actual day of the week.

      If I find one that displays the full day, I’ll certainly add it to the site. I understand how often someone with Alzheimer’s can ask the day. It must be annoying to them, as well, to never know what day it is.

      Sandy

  13. I heard a former executive who had early onset AD speak a few years ago. He put everything into his blackberry and set the alarm for 5 minutes before he was supposed to leave for an appointment. He couldn’t read a calendar anymore and time had lost any real meaning. Of course, he was already familiar with his blackberry and didn’t have to learn a new skill set, but I thought it was an interesting concept.

  14. Marcello Fanutza says:

    Hi Sandy, I have got the same problem with my mum now ( and have had it for the past two years now). The last thing I have found it could probably help her with this is a talking watch or clock. (Taken from sites dedicated to items for blind people) . This could solve the problem. Obviously now, my mum being italian now I have got to find something in the right language. I am still looking for it. Ciao for now.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Hello,
      That is a good idea. I hadn’t even thought of a talking clock. Finding the correct language could certainly be a challenge though.
      If we search hard enough, we usually find a solution.

      Best luck,
      Sandy

  15. This is a great article that brings to mind the compassion required in caregiving. Thank you so much!

    IsabelCares
    @EnduringCare

  16. I really wish someone would just make a digital calendar with the day, month, and date ONLY. When they get to a certain stage, they no longer relate to the hours and minutes in a day, but it would be helpful for them to have a big sign in front of them that says “Today is (day) (month) (date).” I envision something like the old-fashioned daily tear-off desk calendars. Forget the clock display, just make a digital calendar. Of course, I realize that the mechanism would have to have an internal clock to keep up with the time, but it does not have to be displayed with the calendar. Too much information is confusing to them.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      I do understand, Jane. I felt as though I was constantly searching for a new solution to Mom’s ever-changing perceptions. Sometimes things would change as soon as I’d found a reasonable solution. It is very frustrating, but well worth the effort to keep them functioning for as long as possible.

      Like you, I was so happy to find a calendar for Mom’s room in the “group home” since she thought no one came to see her. She understood our “signing-in” for visits for about two weeks, then she no longer understood the hierarchy of the 12 months.

      If you click on any of the calendars or clocks I have displayed, though, it should take you to Amazon. They do have a large variety of Calendars and clocks and you may find one that is more to your liking. You might also type a search with “Medical Calendar” in the title at Amazon. That will bring up a more professional calendar.

      Best of luck–
      Sandy

  17. I agree, my mother suffers from dementia and continues to ask for day of the week and time. I need to get her an led calender that shows day and time as clearly as possible.

    • ~ Sandy says:

      Hello Jim,
      That’s the way it was for my Mom, too, in fact it was many months before I realized she could no longer tell time. And, that was quite by accident because she wanted to trade watches with me. Hers had hands and mine was digital. For many weeks before that, she had me buying watch batteries for every watch she owned. She didn’t realize, herself, why she couldn’t tell time but thought her watch was broken.

      The calendar issue may be more difficult, unless as you say, it’s on a clock that changes with the time. The paper calendars just don’t work. They aren’t able to get the concept of 9/16/10 anymore. Partially, probably, because when tested they seldom know the month or year of the current date. They simply aren’t able to remember that.
      Thank you for stopping by, Jim, and our best with your mom,
      Sandy

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