What Time Is It? Dementia Confusion

By: Frank Engelman.  Updated: September 17, 2021.


Problem description

Time Disorientation and Dementia

My Dad is now in a nursing home, and he can't tell the difference between 4 AM and 4 PM when looking at a clock. When he asks his Voice Assistant, and it says, "It's 4 AM", he thinks it said "4 PM," and he better get dressed for dinner!

This is a common problem for those suffering from MCD (Mild Cognitive Decline) and the early stages of Alzheimer's.

I have had a number of requests for "ideas that might help" from readers, and note other people with similar problems commenting on various other places online. So, ... I have been working on creating an Alexa "skill" that might help. See the "solution" below.


More Like This

This is part of a series of "Problems" and DIY Technology "Solutions" to the challenges faced by older adults, by Frank Engelman. 



Suggested Solutions

Time of Day for Dementia Patient - Alexa Skill

I have created an Alexa skill called "My Clock" that is designed to help people with dementia who suffer from time "confusion". And also to help caregivers who get exhausted from answering repeated questions about "what time is it"?





from SongOfRuth (member) at December 01, 2020

I purchased my 87yo mother a "memory" or "dementia" clock. She loves it. The readout is extremely large. In addition to time, it lists the full date, day of the week, and what part of the day it is (morning, afternoon, evening). It can also give reminders but they are preset. Mom has a habit of falling asleep easily and would wake up and confuse day and night. I will be reading many articles in this series.


from SongOfRuth (member) at August 11, 2021

Update: Mom still loves her clock! So much so that my sister bought her a smaller one for her front room. The 2nd one has a very loud alarm for the reminder function, so loud that Mom found it jarring and she has profound hearing loss. :) So that's been turned off. But Alexa is still reminding her of things and that's usually enough for her.


from faengelm (member) at December 02, 2020

Hello SongOfRuth,

Thanks for pointing out the need for a clock that also shows the day and date. I have been thinking of adding that type of display in an Alexa Skill



from SongOfRuth (member) at December 02, 2020

The advantage of the Skill would be the time would always be right. ;) Several people in a forum I belong to have purchased the "Memory" clocks for their elderly loved ones and have been well satisfied. 


from faengelm (member) at January 28, 2021

Hello SongOfRuth,

Another reader, Carol T., has suggested an Alexa Skill for a dementia clock.

It seems to work quite well.



from Martina (unverified) at October 18, 2021

Hello! I am from Austria. I didn´t found this - My clock- for German Market. It would help my father so much. Can you help me? Best Greetings!


from faengelm (member) at October 19, 2021

Hello Martina,

I have only written this Alexa Skill for the US market. I'm planning on adding other English-speaking markets that Amazon supports, but hadn't thought about other languages.

Based on your encouragement, I will look into other languages.


from faengelm (member) at August 09, 2022

If your loved one is having difficulty saying “Alexa, My Clock” rather than the familiar “Alexa, What Time is it?”, I have some good news for you.

Amazon has recently started giving preference to Alexa Routines using spoken commands over built-in actions such as “time” now allowing you to create an Alexa Routine with a voice command of “What time is it” and have it trigger the “My Clock” Skill

If you are not familiar with creating Alexa Routines, see our article “Solution: Making It Easier to Command Alexa” 

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