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Time & Place Orientation

In the early stages of dementia people can often lose their sense of time and place. Experts recommend that in-home caregivers be patient and use gentle reminders to help a loved one with dementia.

This disorientation may also increase the risk of a fall for a person living with dementia. The calm attitude of a caregiver can go a long way in helping to limit risks.

“You might say, 'It’s a beautiful Tuesday morning to go shopping,’” said Ruth Drew, Director of the Client and Information Services at the national office of the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago. “Gentle cues can be helpful, especially if they do not feel demeaning to the person.”

Ms. Drew also suggests having large clocks around the house.

“We have had people tell us that the way they try to cope with it is by having the time and date on their computer screen so they could keep checking it during the day,” she said.

Another tip is to not only have a wall or desk calendar visible, but cross off the days so that it is very clear which day of the month it is at all times. The daily newspaper being delivered to the house is also a reminder of the date, she said.

 “At some point a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia is not going to be able to hold onto that information,” she said. “All the clocks, calendars and newspapers are not going to help.”

In-home caregivers should not try to convince the person with dementia of the correct time or place either, Ms. Drew advised. “Certainly in the later stages it is not uncommon for someone to think 2 a.m. is 2 p.m., and there is no way of convincing him or her otherwise,” she said. “We’re the ones who can be flexible, go with the flow while they are experiencing the disease.”