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My mother-in-law has been using free charity monthly calendars for years, marking off days gone by, and referencing it for appointments. We would write the pickup time and until this past summer, she was good at being ready to go at the pick up time. Through a gradual process, she stopped marking off the days and if she references it, the time just is forgotten as soon as she looks at it. She seems to forget the month and year and most times can't keep track of the day of the week. We did recently get her a dementia clock with the day of the week and date completely spelled out. Time will tell but think that will help her keep more oriented to time, day, month and year. As we approach 2023, we are trying to figure out what sort of paper calendar would work best for her. Should we record upcoming appointments on a monthly or weekly calendar? Any recommendations?

Once dementia enters the scene, 'calendars' and once-useful items of that sort become a thing of the past. Seniors with dementia no longer have the capacity to use calendars, remember dates or events, and you cannot expect them to; those days are gone. Your MIL needs a person to remind her that it's time to go to breakfast, or to the doctor, or whatever the case may be. She needs a human prompt to get her to do anything anymore.

When my mother had to move out of regular AL and into Memory Care AL, this was why: b/c she needed help with everything due to her short term memory being gone. Short term memory is what keeps us able to function in life. It's what keeps us able to take a shower b/c we remember the steps involved IN taking a shower. A person with dementia does not. She can walk into the shower and then forget what to do next. Or think "Oh I just took a shower 5 minutes ago" when in reality, it was 5 days ago. They lose all sense of time and place. They wander b/c they forget why they went somewhere, like out the front door and say, "What am I doing here?" Short term memory helps us put water in a pot on the stove, light the stove, wait for the water to boil, then pour that water in a cup for tea. A person with dementia can forget why the pot was put on the stove immediately after it was placed on there, walk away, and wind up burning the house down or starting a stove fire.

That said, expecting a senior with dementia to use a calendar is too far reaching b/c she's lost that ability now. Moving her into Memory Care now is the best thing you can do b/c the human caregivers will be her 'memory' and keep her moving from thing to thing, from event to event, ensuring that she's on time for those events, dressed, cleaned, changed into a clean brief, etc. Hair brushed, teeth cleaned, lotion applied. Because if she were to rely on herself, she'd be able to get nothing done. Even a dry erase board or notes left in my mom's room became too much for her to handle; she'd forget they were there. She'd fall all the time for forgetting she could not walk. That's how bad short term memory loss can get; it's an awful thing, truly.

I suggest you read this 33 page booklet (a free download) which has THE best information ever about managing dementia and what to expect with an elder who's been diagnosed with it.

Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210580

Wishing you the best of luck with a difficult situation.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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I find Alexa a sanity saver. My husband can ask the day, date and time multiple times and “She” never loses patience. You can program reminders too multiple times
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Reply to KathleenQ
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She is probably at the point where she can never use a calendar again. You might need to just write her daily reminder notes on a white board.

Stick with your Alzheimer's clock, although she will soon be unable to follow it soon:
https://www.amazon.com/SSYA-Newest-Version-Clock-Non-Abbreviated/dp/B07C2LL3XF/ref=asc_df_B07C2LL3XF/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=271614679167&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16465416205986393435&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031108&hvtargid=pla-465860469978&psc=1
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Reply to NinjaWarrior3
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AZDaughterinLaw: She may be well past the point of record keeping as it pertains to dates.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Ho hum ho hum...

I should start arriving to pick her up in time for her to get ready before leaving, if I were you. By all means keep her calendar updated *as well*, but it sounds as if the problem is not what kind of calendar she has but that she has stopped referring to it at all, unprompted at least. And there isn't really a format which can fix that.

Keeping track of time and date is, when you think it through, an enormously sophisticated and complex process, and little bits of it can go wrong before it all does. A week ago a lady in her nineties told me what day it was (check) and was pretty good on estimating the time (check) and calculating how long ago she'd arrived home (check). I was yippeeing inside. Then I asked her her date of birth and she was floored. Hadn't a clue.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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(copy and paste)

http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2017/12/echo-show-drop-in-on-people-with.html
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Reply to ConnieCaretaker
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We bought my mother a digital calendar clock after she started harassing us with her latest conspiracy theory. She’d be certain, for example, that today is Monday, Dec. 5th, when in fact today is Friday, Nov. 25th (Ha! I had to look at my phone.) So the newspaper company was scamming people by delivering old newspapers. Obviously the digital calendar was in cahoots. This occurred about 3 years ago.

I’d tell her about an appointment the day before, write the simple facts on a colourful sheet of paper and post it in an obvious spot, then remind her that morning, and again, an hour before we were to leave.

The tearaway calendar sounds good. But the date portion may mean nothing.

With my mother, dates lost all meaning, but she continues to acknowledge time. She still asks what time it is and makes appropriate comments, like being hungry for dinner late in the afternoon.
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Cashew Nov 25, 2022
oooh....I like her conspiracy! Gotta have fun with the lunacy you encounter.
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My Mom's calendar is just to look at cute puppies.
Dates, meetings, appointments....do not exist in her mind. I take care of all that and Mom exists in various times of the past.
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Emmdee Nov 26, 2022
Bravo!
You are helping her to relax about things that she has no control over, and she knows that you are taking care of all the important stuff - she has no need to worry!
Just what we would all like to have at her age!!
And I know that my daughters will give me that peace of mind when I get more 'wobbly' than I already am.
Lots of love to all from Bristol, England!
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Even if she reads out the date and time from a "dementia clock," those numbers will have less and less meaning for her. She may read the words that say she has an appointment at "10 AM Wednesday," but that will not translate to getting up and dressed and ready to go. More help and closer supervision is needed for that.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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Tell her it is the day after yesterday or the day before tomorrow. Do dates or the exact day really matter? I only keep a calendar to track appointments for my wife or pay bills. She does really need to know the date
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Cashew Nov 25, 2022
I only have a general awareness of which date it is. lol
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Let her play around with the free calendars but, like my mom, she won't understand them or remember what's on them.

So, what I did was switched to just me keeping track of her stuff on my google calendar and no longer telling her plans or appointments until the last minute. Cut down on the incessant questions over and over about the plans. So instead of hearing if for days or weeks, I only have to hear it for one day.

The only thing my mom needs to know is about half an hour before the appointment, it's time to get ready cuz we're leaving. There is no need for her to know earlier since she won't remember and won't get ready without being told to, even if it is on a wall calendar.
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Reply to againx100
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snelson2000fl Nov 25, 2022
how did you get her to give up her calendar? my mom carries her planner with her like its her bible.
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So many answers here - sound so much like what my mother is going through. She too has lost all sense of the passage of time, the date year, etc. I use a large desk calendar for her, but mostly it is for her entertainment -- she doesn't know what it means. She is AL. One device that has helped out some is the Madi clock. Not only does it tell her what day it is and time, but is also programmable for multiple alarms. I recorded three alarms to alert her to her meal times at the AL. So, my voice comes on and tells her that it is now time for her to go down for breakfast. Same with lunch and dinner. It heeps to prevent her from going down for a meal an hour too early and wondering where everyone is.
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Reply to Yoyoming
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Depending on her capability, this may not help you, but might help someone actually living with their LO.

I plan to get a calendar for 2023 that shows only one day at a time and tear off the page each day. He often asks what do we have to do today so I plan on posting the events for only that day. If he is aware of events too far ahead, he becomes anxious trying to be sure he is ready so he doesn't miss anything. My husband is having trouble keeping track and often asks what day it is and a monthly or weekly calendar is no longer helpful to him.
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Sharonlee77 Nov 25, 2022
I found this to be true with my husband as well. I found an inexpensive one on Amazon that is half a letter size page for under $10 and it has a feature on it whereby you can scan the code and print off more on your own, so basically a one time investment other than a printer and ink to print off more as needed. Works well so far.
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AZDaughterinLaw, have you considered getting her an Alexa for reminders of appointments? My mother is 73 (turning 74 next month) and checked days off the calendar (posted on the side of the refrigerator) just as you described. About 6 months ago she stopped checking off the days and started frequently losing track of dates and times. We started using Alexa to remind her of the appointment 24 hours before the appointment, morning of, and 30 minutes before we need to leave for the appointment. Alexa will connect with her phone calendar as well. We still keep the calendar on the fridge current and up-to-date as that is what she is used to.

Alexa has become invaluable to my wife and me as we caretake for my mother. We use Alexa to remind mom to take meds, do her PT, etc. We find Alexa to be a polite micro-manager. And, mom likes to say "Hey, Alexa, play me some music," too. :)

FYI, I have no monetary affiliations with Alexa, any type of the same system should work. It's just what we have so we use it.
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NO calendar would have helped my Husband. (clock would not have helped either, when he was able to as soon as "his show" was over he would get ready for bed, if there was a delay with the show for any reason his bed time was delayed)
A day is the same as the one before it, the one after it and the one after that.
At some point I think you accept that days are days and meaningless.
YOU become her calendar, her appointment book. You are the one she relies on to get her to the doctor, hair dresser. As long as you are there then she is all set.
Remind her the day before an appointment. Arrive with enough time to make sure she is ready.
If she is living in AL the staff can assist with making sure she is ready. If she is living alone (might want to rethink that) make sure you get there early enough to help if need be. Read your profile, glad she is in AL, have the staff remind her about appointments and help her get ready the morning of.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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I had two of the “memory clocks” in my mom’s room at the ALF. She would ask me multiple times during my visit what time it was. At some point, she just did not understand dates and the passage of time. She confused night with day. You may find that she does not recognize the function of a calendar. I did have white boards that I used, I would write down upcoming visits and she was able to follow that for awhile.

I would use the boards for staff reminders, reminders of special ALF activities, and often wrote little personal notes assuring her I would be back and that I loved her. She seemed to understand those notes very well.
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Reply to Msblcb
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I agree with Mac, she has lost that ability. No way to "keep her oriented".

I got a calender from Staples that covers the freezer door of my refrigerator. The blocks are about 2 1/2 in square. You write in the month and days. Its like a white board.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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That ship has sailed. If she lives alone, it is time to start looking at AL or MC facilities. She is also past IL.
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Reply to MACinCT
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My dad got my mom a gigantic calendar from the Braille Institute. Even after she could no longer follow a calendar he kept getting them because they're easy to see and have lots of room to write on.

I'm sure you could find a similar one on Amazon. They're similar in size to a desk blotter-sized calendar, but bigger.
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Reply to MJ1929
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When this started happening, it became clear that my LO was not going to be able to keep a calendar anymore. This was after trying various bought calendars after the charity ones didn't seem to meet the need. Plus anxiety became a factor: the calendar became a source of frequent repeated questions about the appointments, when they were and so on. The squares, dates and times meant nothing. The names of the doctors meant nothing as LO didn't know who they were, and after the visit, LO didn't remember the appointment as soon as we left the office. We went back to a charity calendar for the LO and I kept the real calendar. LO could record things on the calendar (due to always having been a calendar person) but seemed more and more unheeding of what a calendar was or why it was there. Your MIL seems to be going down this road; very sorry. And once they start forgetting time, day and year, you might as well understand that nothing will help that. The brain is broken. You can't build it back. Get her a really pretty charity calendar so she can enjoy the pictures, but keep the real calendar yourself. Good luck with this, and at this point, you may wish to start making alternate plans because the other things she's going to forget will soon make it impossible for her to live alone.
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Reply to Fawnby
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We’re in the same boat. About a year ago, my mom stopped looking at and crossing off days on the calendar. She has the day/date clock you mention but the information doesn’t seem to register in her brain. Mom is totally oblivious to the day, season, year, etc. I have found nothing that works. She’s currently residing in memory care and now I just tell staff if we have an appointment the next day. Staff has been great at making sure she’s dressed and ready. I wish you the very best and I’ll be following to see if anyone else has suggestions.
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