Dementia-friendly calendar created by woman with Alzheimer’s ‘a great legacy’

Keith and Val Horncastle on their 50th wedding anniversary (Keith Horncastle)
Keith and Val Horncastle on their 50th wedding anniversary (Keith Horncastle)

A dementia-friendly calendar created by a woman with Alzheimer’s is a “great legacy” for her, according to her widower.

The Memory Calendar, which is a personalisable, page-a-day calendar first imagined by Val Horncastle, helps people with dementia to keep track of the date and maintain a degree of independence.

Since her death in 2015 it has become commercially available thanks to the efforts of her husband Keith and publisher Chris Andrews Publications.

Mr Horncastle, 79, told the PA news agency: “Because she was the sort of person who was always happy to help people, to produce something which is continuing to help people is a great legacy for her to leave.”

(Chris Andrews Publications)

The idea came about when Mrs Horncastle, from Buxton Derbyshire started to find it hard to navigate a traditional calendar, because of the effect the disease was having on her spatial awareness.

Her husband was unable to find what she wanted – a page-a-day calendar with space to write in important details about the day – but on a trip to the supermarket, she spotted a small spiral notebook and suggested he could use it to make one.

Mr Horncastle said: “My DIY is not very good so that was a real vote of confidence.

“What I did was to put the day and date on each of these little pages, and there were four or five lines underneath where you could enter what was going to be happening that day.

“And because it was spiral bound at the top, it would stand up.”

Mrs Horncastle found the calendar so helpful that she wondered if others in her position may benefit from it.

Her husband conducted some research at a local event for people with Alzheimer’s and found plenty of enthusiasm for the idea.

Mr Horncastle said: “I’ve heard of people with Alzheimer’s saying to their carer or supporter ‘is it today we go to such and such?’, and the answer was given – and then half an hour later, they said ‘is it today we go to such and such?’ and the supporter or carer or partner gets frustrated by that.

(Keith Horncastle)

“And it’s demeaning for the person with Alzheimer’s.

“The Memory Calendar for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a way of giving them a degree of independence.”

He approached Chris Andrews, who agreed to make a small amount to test run which proved successful, and the calendars have been commercially available since 2016 with a steadily growing customer base.

Mr Horncastle is delighted that the calendar is proving so popular.

“It is what Val wanted,” he said.

“It always has been Val’s calendar, and it is a legacy that is something positive that came out of the seven years of difficulty she faced as the Alzheimer’s increased in the symptoms.

“So I really am continuing to hopefully do what she would have wanted.”

A donation from any profits from the sale of the calendars goes to the Alzheimer’s Society and bereavement charity Sands.

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