I Need a Charlie App

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People with dementia have trouble keeping track of what time it is, what day of the week it is, and even the month and year.

Charlie and I have devised ways to help him maintain some sort of schedule. They don't always (frequently don't) work as effectively as we would like, but they help.

He keeps a calendar beside his chair and refers to it a dozen times a day. I often catch him sitting with it on his lap studying the calendar. His study always results in questions, time after time, asking the same questions over and over about appointments and events on the calendar.

I patiently (or more often, not so patiently) give him the same answer, over and over. But for him, it is a way of grounding himself and keeping up with the things in his life that are important.

He not only keeps a calendar by his chair, he keeps one in the bathroom, always with a pen nearby. On this calendar he writes notes about when he showers, when he shaves, his bathroom habits and what time he brushed his teeth. He still asks me when he took a shower, etc., but at least he can see for himself that he is keeping track of the important things.

Another useful source of information is his atomic watch.

The watch, at the press of a button, will give him the date, time and other information that he considers important. It resets itself automatically when daylight savings time occurs.

That's a good thing because his once very good mechanical attributes have since departed to never-never land.

The third thing he thought would be helpful, since he frequently gets lost, is a small GPS unit that is supposed to be used when you park your car.

By turning on the device when you leave the car, the device notes the location of the parked car. Upon leaving a store or other building you push a button on the device and it tells you in which direction you need to go to find the car.

Sounds great huh?

But – you need to remember to turn the device on when you get out of the car – something Charlie frequently forgets to do, and I forget to remind him. So who has memory loss here – hmm?

Charlie always sets his alarm clock when he goes to bed – not so difficult since he sets it for the same time every day.

He also keeps a note pad on his night stand with a note telling why he must get up at a certain time on a given day, doctor's appointment at ten for example. Without that note, he just reaches over and turns off the alarm, thinking that he can sleep until noon if he wants to—which he sometimes does.

The problem with the note is, he will get up scratching his head and ask me why he has to go to the doctor, and if it's for his prostate. Charlie's prostate has been gone for ten years!

I think I am going to ask my apps expert grandson-in-law to invent an app that will help me find Charlie when I lose him in the grocery store. You see, he likes to wander to the wine aisle and then forgets how to get back to me.

With a "Charlie app" maybe I will be able to push a button on my cell phone that will tell me where he's hiding.

Forgetfulness and wanderlust are rampant in dementia patients. When we get that "Charlie app" I'll let you know. We'll patent it.

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 AgingCare.com, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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11 Comments

I found a Mini GPS Tracker works good for personal positioning, pet monitoring, vehicle, security etc. It has a call in feature that allows you to call the unit and listen to anything within 8 feet of the device. Real-time locating and tracking, Geo-fence function: It will alarm if it breaches the restricted area, SOS function: It sends a help message if SOS button is pressed, Speeding alarm: It will alarm if it is speeding. My Mom can't drive any more but I never know what she will try next. This is the link to the web site. I used a coupon code usmp10 and got 10% off, not sure if it is still good. usmpspycams/bug-detectors/mini-gps-tracker
Something that was effective for my mom and me when she was in earlier stages of Alzheimer's was a white board that hung in her bedroom. I would write the date, the day of the week, and anything else I wanted Mom to remember: "Today is shower day" or "Hair appointment at 2" or "Mary will be stopping by." She came to rely on the board and checked it first thing each morning.
That's a very sweet story, Marlis, and some great tips on helping someone with memory issues! You are clearly in love. I have shared your story on my Facebook site.