Charlie’s Mission is to Make Me Grumpy—And He Does a Good Job


There he goes with that calendar again. Every day we go through this.

Today Charlie is looking at "Prevention" magazine. "It says here men should have a teeth cleaning once a year. We need to schedule me for a cleaning," he proclaims.

I respond, "You just had one three weeks ago," and Charlie gets out the calendar.

"Oh yes, and I have one scheduled on April 17th, at the VA."

"No Charlie. The VA doesn't do dental work. You have one scheduled in three months with Dr. so-and-so." (The VA appointment is for a medical follow-up.)

"Who's Dr. so-and-so? Have I ever been to him before? And we have to make sure and tell him I have Delta Dental."

"He knows that Charlie. It's on your records."

"But we have to remind him. He might forget." He flips the pages of the calendar again. "When's my next dental appointment?"

"Charlie," I say, beginning to raise my voice. "We just talked about that."

"I know, but I have to make sure I keep you grumpy." Still flipping the calendar back and forth, he says, "I have a dentist appointment on June 17. It's at 3:30 – I don't like 3:30 appointments. See if you can change that."

"That's the only time they had available, Charlie."

"Well, if they call, see if you can change it."

Back to the calendar he goes. "Chuck and Marlis have an appointment at Dr. so-and-so's on June 17. Is that correct? What's that for?"

"It's for a cleaning Charlie." (The dentist has him on a four-month schedule because of gum problems.)

"Oh, but I need one at least once a year." (He had one in February.)

Well – you see what I go through. This all happened in a ten minute time period, and it goes on, all day, every day. As I've said before, he is obsessed with his teeth. We no sooner get home from the dentist and he tells me he needs an appointment.

I have to wonder how much longer I am going to keep my sanity. At least he hasn't lost his sense of humor—yet. HE WANTS TO MAKE SURE HE KEEPS ME GRUMPY! Well he's doing a good job of that.

I turn on "Family Feud" to get his mind off the dentist—for a few minutes.

Sometimes he reminds of the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie, "Rain Man;" over and over with the same obsessive fixation on one subject, usually related to his calendar.

I realize that the calendar helps to keep him grounded in time and place—or does it just add to the confusion?

I have tried hiding it – he gets panicky. He keeps a calendar in every room, but the one beside his recliner in the living room is his life-line.

I guess I should just be thankful that he can still read and write. There may come a day when even that is lost.

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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yes, my father also gets fixated on certain things, like counting his money every couple of days, it bothers my mother and then she gets mad. I told her due to them growing up in depression he wants to make sure he has plenty for them to live on. and the calendars, they have one in every single room, the kitchen has 3 but yet he never knows what day it is. even though I tell my mother to put an X on the day when they go to sleep, oh she does, but only on HER calendar. and clocks, yep there is one in every room except for the bathroom.
I've often wanted to take the calendar away too, but I know it will make the confusion worse.. The only thing she rights on it is the time she takes 1 of her pills twice a day.. I can't write appts on there, I have to spring those on her last minute or she will obsess about the up coming appt which would cause panic attacks..

So you're not the only GRUMPY caregiver out there...LOL
I'm new to your blog but Charlie sounds much like my dad , "charlie". You may have already discovered them, but memory clocks can make a huge difference for people with dementia. It changed my dads life profoundly when I got him one of these clocks. It has the time,day month and year in big letters you can see from across the room. My dad loves it and it helps him stay oriented all day long.