As a dementia caregiver, it can be frustrating reliving the same conversations over and over again. But this morning I was particularly touched that my mom told me twice about the calendar she bought.
please note :: as an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases, read my full disclosure policy here
Mom's Calendar Quest
I call my mother in law “Mom” because she she has been Mom for almost 20 years now. My own Mother passed away when I was 30, so having a bonus Mom has been a blessing (yes, even now!)
Mom's calendar quest has been ongoing since she started showing signs of dementia and keeping track of things became hard for her!
Today she broke my heart by telling me twice in 5 minutes that she bought a super cute calendar … “That way I can know what is going on.”
Dementia, Alzheimers and Calendars
Because she has been living with us since she fell and laid on the floor for a couple days, I know her seasons.
For a while she will not be worried (it is generally when she is worse off).
But the messed up part of dementia is that when she is doing good (eating well, has the right combination of medications and vitamins) that she notices that things are not right.
She knows she is confused… that is the heartbreaking part.
Mom was a bookkeeper who could keep track of all the little details… and now she doesn't now what day it is… sigh.
Daily Whiteboard Calendar
One of the calendar things we did with Mom when she was super confused was to have a daily “what's happening” list that we updated every day.
When we weren't around, this was a way for Mom to know what was going on!
(we only used this in the nursing home when she was recovering from her fall, she lives with us now… here are some tips for moving Mom in with you)
This would work great if you work outside the home or your Mom lives alone still, but you check in often.
Daily Calendar Journal
Another kind of calendar she got was a “journal”. This was a place where she could write down everything that happened so she could remember it.
She has a couple of them that she started, but when she finds them later they are hard to read and I think kind of alarming to her.
But when she orders them she has a plan… the plan calms her down and makes her feel in control… yay!
Monthly Planner Calendar
This is the kind that she is getting this time. She said that she didn't want to have to fill it out all the time, but wanted something cute and fun to record “all the things I have to do because I am tired of asking you questions.”
Of course I don't mind telling her what is going on and maybe we can fill out some of the stuff together so she things she knows for sure (Monday is spaghetti night, Friday is pizza night).
Our house is super regimented because we adopted kids from foster care so we have a lot of things that scheduled regularly. That has helped with Mom knowing what things will happen too when she remembers.
FAQs About Dementia Calendars
When I talk about Mom and her troubles, it seems to really help other caregivers who are in the same situation. Here are some of the questions I have gotten about how calendars have actually worked for dementia peeps.
Isn't It A Waste of Money To Keep Buying Calendars?
Fortunately for us, Mom has a bit of disposable income and my husband and I are financially secure. For us, the immediate relief Mom feels about having a “plan” to help her memory outweighs any cost.
Does She Use The Calendars?
Whew, this is a hard one to write, but no. Her cognitive abilities are not good enough to maintain an actual record of events or remember to keep up with upcoming events.
The calendars are more to make her feel better in the moment than as a functional working tool.
What Worked Best?
The daily calendar that we filled out on the white board that told her what she had done that day and what was coming up that day worked the best.
The nice part about it was it was a way for us to have added interaction time with her.
Honestly though, she is only somewhat in the “now” with us, and then mostly long ago when her sisters and Mom were still alive.
Doesn't It Drive You Nuts?
Nope, not today. Sometimes the repetitive questions make me crazy, but today is a good, compassionate day for me.
That said, I don't have unlimited patience and sometimes I want to scream that a calendar will not help… but I don't.
Because you can tell that she just wants a calendar to help feel in control. To help her understand WHY she can't remember things.
Today is a good dementia caregiving day for me!