Friday, November 14, 2008

Think BIG! Senior-Friendly Calendar and Clock!

The calendar highlights activities, with the times they are offered. The purple arrows flag appointments.
This clock is just wonderful! The day and date flip at midnight.

Finally, I have something worth writing about! I know it's been a long time, but when I started this blog, my intention was to focus on products and services that were beneficial to helping your elderly parents (or siblings or friends!) ... not to ramble on about the everyday toils and troubles and anxieties we all feel. We all feel them, let's face it! So, on a positive note, I finally have some products (and projects!) that are, in my opinion, well worth mentioning.

Without going into a lot of details, let me just say that my parents, due to injury, finally moved into an assisted-living residence about two months ago. This has been quite an adjustment ... more of an ongoing adjustment, I'd say. I've been trying everything I can think of to make the transition easier and to try to make sure they are able to take advantage of all the activities and services provided there.

The residence provides a monthly calendar with all the activities listed for every day; however, my parents never seemed to attend anything ... partly because they didn't really even know where to look to figure out what they might want to do and where/when it was offered.

When I met with a senior advocate a couple of weeks ago, she encouraged me to take the monthly calendar and make it REALLY BIG. Highlight the activities that might be important (like appointments) and also all the activities that might be of interest to my parents. She also encouraged me to hang this in a prominent place in the room, visible from the doorway, so that when members of the staff came in, they, too, could glance up at the calendar and remind my parents that the "Bridge Club" was meeting soon or that "Bingo" was just about to start, etc. With that idea, I went to a teacher's store and bought a big, cardboard write on/wipe off calendar. I decided against using the write on/wipe off calendar as THE calendar, though, because after I had filled in the activities for the month, I brushed against it and "poof," half of it disappeared with a mere swipe of my arm! Forget it! If the activites could be that easily erased, it was never going to last a month.

I definitely wanted something more permanent. So I headed over to Office Depot and found those big pieces of paper that come in a tablet on a cardboard easel. The paper, with a little trimming, would work perfectly. SO, I took the teacher's-store calendar and used it as a template to make my own calendar. I don't have a light table big enough for tracing such a huge item, so I used some masking tape and taped the teacher's-store calendar to the window, then I taped my big piece of paper over it. Using the light that came from behind, I was able to see the calendar perfectly and with permanent markers and a ruler, I traced the grid for the calendar.

After I finished the grid, I put my piece on the floor and finished drawing in all the days of the week. Using the monthly calendar from the residence, I wrote in all the things that might interest my parents and the scheduled times. I used different colored markers for each activity and tried to keep that the same throughout: Pale blue for exercises, bright green for bingo, purple for appointments, red for Mass, etc.

I took the calendar and posted it on a bulletin board, along with a list of all the phone numbers that my parents might need (or want!) so they don't have to plow through their old address books every day. (I tacked up a couple of photos, too, just because I had the space on the bulletin board, but you wouldn't have to do that!)

I hung the whole thing in the center of the living-room wall. THEN, I found a fantastic clock that features the day/time. You can find this clock at the Alzheimer's Store. They also have a wall clock that has the same features. The wall clock costs more and I didn't think it would be quite as useful as the desk clock for our purpose. Both clocks are pretty expensive, in my opinion, but I really do think it's been a great help.

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