Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Caregiving: calendars & schedules

Wall calendars are the caregiver equivalent of ancient cave drawings. A 20” wide by 30” high monthly calendar has been part of our kitchen forever.


Through home caregiving and basically single parenting it was my alter ego. Graphically displayed in color, it emphasized what had to be done and what had just happened.


Now in the care facility era we have grown to two wall calendars. One hangs in Patti’s room, the other still anchors our kitchen. For example, the circles pictured below from July 2007 count and record 'family outings' with Patti.


Patti’s room calendar, on the other hand, records visitors, outings, important dates, etc. Patti can somewhat see and understand it, but more importantly shifts of staff, and visitors can glance at it and get a quick grasp of what has been going on outside of her ‘medical’ news. It provides ‘reality’ to help offset Patti’s MS related memory loss and cognitive challenges.


At home, with the hustle and bustle of daily life it’s easy to fall into a trap of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Walking by the calendar multiple times a day I am constantly reminded, “Are we keeping Patti involved with family and home?”


When someone is challenged and dependent on you, a calendar or schedule is a ‘door’ for them. If the door opens to nothing and looking back shows nothing, couldn’t that seem ominous?


As for me, well … there is the fun of drawing and writing with colored markers … kind of a Peter Pan kind of bonus. <grin>

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer




  1. great idea:) i just watched all of your videos again last night i love them all and the ones with megan and patti are priceless


  2. Patrick, you are revealing one of the secrets of a teacher's success:  the school year calendar. Like you, I keep several calendars. One monthly calendar on my fridge in the kitchen to make sure I don't forget the family/friends/church events (it looks kind of like yours all marked up in colors). One monthly calendar at school for students and teachers to see (also color coded), to make sure that all school/classroom events are properly anticipated and planned for. And the most important one of all, the one I carry with me to all meetings (at school and at church) holds everything I need to remember, a combination of home and school calendars. I like drawing in my calendars too. Sometimes I'll even add a quote that touches me, motivates, or inspires me. I think any family would benefit from a family calendar such as you keep, to make sure all family members get their fair share of activities and attention. Personally, I don't know how people get through all that needs to be taken care of in the course of a year's time, especially with kids in school... not even counting families with challenged family members. Good entry, great suggestion. bea

  3. My thing, besides the calendar countdown <grin> is "To Do" lists!!  I can't live without them!!

  4. wow--the fact that you can keep a calendar impresses me!
    I am horrrrible at it.

    I have my lesson planner which I write in when I remember to--usually after the fact at school so it looks like I'm teaching something.

    I have my calendar--but I forget to write most things in it--I figure doctors, dentists and accupuncturists call and confirm.

    I'm envious of people who can actually be organized.

  5. What an ingenious idea.  I think I've discovered something about your continual positivity that baffled me at first:  it's INVOLVEMENT.  You make this a priority and by including your own needs, a viable one.  You won't mind then, if I borrow now and again from your thoughts while trying to deal with a brother with MS and not a very nice person before the diagnosis.  He wants to BECOME his illness for self-gratification issues and it saddens my heart no end.  No one can deal with him, he won't have it.  He insists we validate his MS in a negative way, instead of the very "live-each-day" positive method you seem to use to such success with Patti.  When I post on this, I hope you'll lend a comment.  Thanks Pat.  xoxo CATHY


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