A development that an adult child may observe in an elderly parent is the time when the calendar becomes less and less significant and managing time and appointments becomes more difficult.
I can remember visiting my husband’s mother and mentioning that it was a Saturday morning. “Saturday?” she exclaimed. A friend told me how she visited her dad on a cold January day to take him out to dinner and he asked what jacket he should wear, commenting that it was November. Another friend planned a family get-together, having reminded her mother repeatedly, but when she arrived, just hours after the last reminder, her mother did not remember what day it was.
As individuals age into the fragile time of older elderhood, a time when they depend a lot on other people, the calendar becomes less of a tool. and guide. Older elders may get mixed up about days or the week, months, and even seasons, and they need their adult children to help them, discreetly, with the structure that the calendars used to provide.
Some recently retired people, individuals who live active and full lives, sometimes note that they do a doubletake when they try to think about what day it is. After so many years of going to work each day and scrupulously monitoring workdays, weekends and days off — the calendar can sometimes be a bit disorienting when professional routines no longer exist. This falls into the category of adjusting to retirement.
When individuals reach an age when memory plays tricks or fails, the calendar is increasingly insignificant. Calendars and datebooks help a bit, but not that much. A lifelong teacher goes right through the month of September without even thinking about the month that was so significant each year at the beginning of school. Medical appoints are forgotten. An elderly minister forgets that it’s Sunday. And people who have maintained calendars for years and years, become less efficient at managing their appointments and even events. that they are looking forward to attending.
It is one more way that fragile elders need increased attention and support from their adult children.