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I would like my mother-in-law to start marking the days off on the calendar. I feel this will help her to know what day it is and if we need to remind her of appointments or special items. I have put this on her refrigerator with pens handy. So far after 4 days, she still has not caught on. I go over every day and ask her, mark it off, and tell her I will keep reminding her until she starts doing this. Any other suggestions? Thank you.

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Thank you NTZima1938.
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My husband has dementia for over 2 years; medication like Donepezil (Airicept) and Namenda keeps him calm and doing little chores around the house. The meds does not improve his memory because he will not remember anything you tell him from one minute to the next. We have to constantly remind him to take his meds, wear his depends, rinse his wet shorts, etc.. Dementia is not going to improve with meds; it's a deteriorating illness, but it may help slow it down a little. It's very hard on the care giver due to other responsibilities on your daily lives. I will be taking him to an adult day care center twice a week so that he can socialize with others and I can take care of other things.

He tries hard to remember, gets frustrated and depressed when he doesn't do things right. I'm hoping that being among other people similar to his problems and professional care givers, it will keep him feeling better.
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Well, thanks everyone but I did lose the battle. :(
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Thank you so much everyone for your suggestions! The Atomic clock is a great idea! I will start looking for one. I would like the calendar as well, as we want to be able to start writing items on it so she will see them when she looks at the calendar. I will forge on for a time, but as someone posted, it may not be possible for her to do this. Thanks again!
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I agree with changing the needle each time, but it is one of those battles I chose not to fight. I worry about contamination, but she has been doing it for years without anything bad happening. So I just let her do it the way she wants. It would be one of those losing battles.
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Jessie, changing the needle every time was greatly emphasized for me. In fact, not storing the pen with a needle on it was also in the instructions. Obviously your mother and I are not sharing our needles on the street, but I'm very compliant when it comes to pumping drugs into my body. :) On the other hand, I use the same finger-prick needle until it is so blunt it hurts. I guess we each have our little rituals, eh?
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We have both an atomic clock and a fridge calendar in our kitchen. My memory impaired husband can look at the clock and relate it to the calendar so he knows what is coming up on our schedule. Sometimes he needs help anyway, but the combination usually works.
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Jeanne, remembering something that is so routine is hard even for younger people. Mom uses the Levemir pens and doesn't change the needle each time. Occasionally neither one of us knows if she got her shot, so we have to check her blood glucose a time or two. Life would be so much easier without the diabetes. One day maybe they will have an implant that works automatically and you never have to worry with it. I wish they already did. I had a friend that had an external pack that regulated his sugar. He loved it, but I know it wouldn't work with my mother.
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Jessie, I had a hard time remembering if I'd taken my bedtime insulin. I'd finish reading and then wonder "Did I take my shot, or was that last night?" So I bought a extra-large 7-day pill box and put a needle in each one. Now I can at least answer the question, "Did I already take my pill?"
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Yes my mum is pretty much like jesse's its not so much dates and time its reasoning and sense of danger maybe this is common with vascular as in the memory maybe the very last to go and some say they may not lose thier long term memory at all but short term definetly i still dont know how true this is? mums long term is better than mine so far? her geriatrician said vascular is not the worst of the dementias as they do have lucid days?
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The calendar on the refrigerator works for my mother 2/3 of the time. She takes 2 shots of insulin a day and marks each on the calendar when she takes them. She is very good at remembering to mark the morning, but sometimes forgets to mark the evening. This may be because I hand her the insulin pen before dinner, so it's a different routine. I do think the calendar helps her to orient to the day and month. She can also see when she has appointments, which helps her.

What helps your mother with these tasks depends so much on her. Mine has a fairly good orientation to time. Her problem lies more with reasoning and memory of events. People with a lesser sense of time may not be helped much with a refrigerator calendar. The clock would be an excellent gift for these people.
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This may not be possible.

Repetition can form habits, but until the habit is formed, how is the person with dementia going to remember to do the action? If you do it with her consistently every day at the same time, perhaps after two or three weeks she'll do it herself -- or perhaps not. And once she gets the hang of marking the calendar (if she does) what will stop her from doing it several times a day?

We had an atomic clock that displayed the time, the date, and the day of the week. No one had to do anything to change it each day. My husband would look at it and say, "Oh, it is Friday. I thought it was Saturday."

My mother keeps track of the day (sort of) by looking at the day's newspaper. "It is Wednesday, so I guess the Twins don't play today." But when she is not looking at the paper she forgets what day it is or why it matters. She may eventually know that she has her hair done on Thursdays, but if she never does, so what? She relies on others to be her memory now.

I think your plan is sound. Keep at it, and maybe it in a few weeks you'll see results. If not, find some other way to help orient her to the date. A large atomic clock that displays this information might work.
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I see only aggravation in your future, unfortunately.

Perhaps you could get her a clock that TOLD her what day it was? Here's one for $19.95. firststreetonline.

Or you could call her every day and ask her to mark it off the calendar? (Put it right by the phone....?)
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I tried that with my cousin who was suffering with dementia. She would tell me she understood and she would mark off the calendar when she would take her vitamin, but she never did. She forgot to take the vitamin and she never marked anything on the calendar. I soon realized that she just wasn't capable of doing it. Time means nothing to her. Even the concept of a calendar was not something she was interested in. Maybe others have better news regarding their situation. It may also depend on your mother-in-law's level of dementia.
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