Thursday, June 8

7 Clocks for Dementia


"What time is it?" and "What day is today?" may be repeated too often by people with dementia. It's disorienting for them and frustrating for people with them. DEMENTIA CLOCKS offer patience, convenience and good looks. Check out these 7 options.

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

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.

The "analog" clock to the left was designed to be a simple and effective dementia clock. It has the traditional 12-hour analog clock face. A 12-hour clock can confuse people with dementia because the clock does not indicate if it is AM or PM, night or day, early or late. To prevent such confusion, this clock has a rotating graphics display. It displays sky blue background, clouds & sun during the day, while showing a dark blue sky, stars & moon at night. It is a straightforward, non-obtrusive and attractive dementia clock that is quite popular.

Day Clocks

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.

Low-Cost Alternatives: Android 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.

Here is a sampling of the best Android apps for people with dementia.
  1. Big Clock (It has a traditional clock face, but no year.)
  2. Thousand Clock (For advanced users. You can choose from hundreds of designs, modify them, or even make your own with the upgraded version, "Make Your Clock".)
  3. Super Clock Wallpaper (Free)
  4. Digi Clock

Apple iPad

Apple iPad users should be able to find these or similar apps. Click these images for some examples:

All these apps are free or cost less than $3. 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

Comment or Share:

  1. Have all of these clocks been 'tested' with Alzheimer's patients? From my first hand experience with Mother, the words and numbers will eventually become meaningless. Maybe in the early stages they'd be fine but as the disease progresses, they will be dust collectors.

    1. Perhaps you can donate them to other families that their love ones can still understand them.

  2. From my first hand experience with many of my elderly clients these clocks work wonders!!!!! If and when they eventually become dust collectors is it not worth the relief provided in the interim? I found your comment cold. Every single minute of comfort and reassurance that can be provided is a lifetime to them. And in this case it is an inanimate object doing the work to provide you with some relief from the sometimes endless repetitive questions.
    I do find some of them ridiculously overpriced but found a perfect one at Walmart for $18.00. I suggest you put it next to your other dust collectors.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about Walmart clock. I need several around the house for my mom.

  3. The Dynamic Living Calendar Clock is a solid option- we surveyed a bunch of calendar clock users who purchased them for elderly relatives in failing health and the consensus was that it was a pretty effective and inexpensive option. Curiously, we discovered that some people with ADHD also purchased calendar clocks to keep them on schedule- a curious use for these products considering they're primarily used to help individuals with age-related issues like dementia and Alzheimers. Our full writeup is here: http://www.top5reviewed.com/the-5-best-calendar-clocks-for-the-elderly/

  4. May I suggest MemClock Android app? I developed for my mother who has Alzheimer's because she could no longer read digital or analog clocks. It provides the time in words, colors and image. It also provides reminder tasks and logs the time when those tasks are "DONE".

  5. My dad's dementia clock is great! Now I need to find a similar thing in a watch. Everything I see has some stupid feature on it to complicate it. Anybody have any recommendations??


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