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Is it Time for a New Clock? — Options for Dementia Patients


Often after a medical emergency, someone will ask the patient what day or date it is, to test their mental orientation. They might ask who the president is or something similar in order to see if they are living in the moment. It is common for a dementia patient to repeatedly ask, “What time is it?” or “What day is it?” This can be frustrating for the caretaker or visitor. There are special clocks that can keep a person with dementia oriented and in the present moment. Here are some general introductions to the types of clocks available. An online search or consultation with an expert can produce some specific recommendations.


Calendar clocks display the month, day, date, and time, in large digits. Some more complicated ones display weather and other information. This may be too much information for the person with dementia. Generally, it seems seniors are more comfortable with the old-fashioned analog clocks, with the familiar hour- and minute-hands and round face. It might be hard for them to see the digital numbers and try to relate them to a clock face.

Talking clocks were designed for people with vision impairments. They come in many forms, from table models to cubes to keychains, and more. They can announce the time at regular intervals or when a button is pushed, and can even remind the user of important appointments and medication times! Some of the newer technological wonders, like Amazon’s Echo, respond to voice commands. There are clocks that are completely voice-controlled, so the user does not need to fumble with buttons.

LED Day Clocks have large, bright displays that make them easy to see, even in daylight.

There are also many apps available for tablets and smartphones that can display time with digits or clock faces.

A creative option is the 2-in-1 Calendar Clock + Day Clock. This is a large-face clock that displays the day, date, and time, in large type. In the later stages of dementia, it can be set to display a more simple message, such as, “Now it’s Thursday Afternoon.” This can help orient the person with a minimum of information. It is helpful as a bedside companion to orient the user in the middle of the night so they don’t get up to wander around, thinking it’s daytime.

Some thoughtful research can help you decide which option is best for you or your loved one.

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.

The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café, and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety, and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day and is open to the public.

Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit us at