How to Use Clocks to Reduce Confusion in People With Dementia

How to Use Clocks to Reduce Confusion in People With Dementia

People with dementia often lose track of the time, date, or even if it’s day or night. If you are a caregiver, you may find yourself arguing with a loved one about what day it is, or what activities it’s time for them to do. This can cause strain on your relationship- especially if you are asking them to believe your word over what they perceive to be the truth.

 

One way to mitigate these types of situations is to transfer the authority (and blame) to an inanimate object- the clock. Even if your loved one already has a clock or watch in their home, you may not be getting the most use out of it. Choosing clocks that are clear and easy to see, that have alarm functions, and that display the month and day, will make everyone’s lives a little easier.

Low Vision Clocks

Sometimes people with dementia also have age-related vision loss. Even if they don’t, visually tracking tiny numbers can be confusing. That’s why choosing a clock that is designed for people with low vision is a win-win situation.

 

Also, using a digital clock is ideal. Analog clocks can be challenging to read because the viewer has to remember how to tell time on the analog clock. Digital clocks with jumbo-sized numbers offer the best combination of features.  

 

By making sure the time is easy to see and understand, you are reducing the potential for disagreements that might start over misreading the clock. You can gently direct your loved one to look at the numbers, and instead of telling them what it is, you can ask them what time it is. For example, instead of saying, “It’s 6:00! You need to eat your dinner now,” you can ask, “We eat dinner at 6:00. What time is it now?”

Types of Alarms

Most clocks come with a standard alarm feature. This is fine for a one time task, like getting up in the morning. But what do you do if you have multiple activities you would like to alert your loved one to throughout the day? Even if you get a clock that has the multiple alarm feature, how can they tell what each alarm is signaling?

 

This is where clocks like the Your Minder Personal Recording Alarm Clock come in really handy. The Your Minder Personal Alarm Clock can record your own voice and play back a personal alarm or reminder for each alarm. Record up to six of your own alarm messages to alert users when it’s time to take medication, get out of bed, walk the dog- or whatever they need to do!

Dates and Months

It’s one thing to see and know what time it is, and it’s another to keep track of the day of the week and the month of the year. Your loved one may understand it’s morning because they can see the sun coming through their window. But what if they have trouble remembering what day it is? If they have special activities they look forward to every week, they may keep those activities in the forefront of their mind and ask you every day if it is time to go.

 

Using a clock that has both a day and month display can help with this problem. If water therapy is on Wednesday, and today is Tuesday, you don’t have to bear the disappointing news. You can gently direct your loved one to look at the clock and let you know what day it is. Or if they think it is the month of their granddaughter’s birthday, you can ask them to check the clock to verify if it is June yet.  

 

None of these ideas will work 100% of the time, but they will certainly cut back on the potential for misunderstandings.