Activities were being forgotten, and it was difficult to keep track of time. Both Anna-Greta and her daughters noticed that something wasn't right. After visiting a health centre, and subsequent examination at a memory clinic, Anna-Greta was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The illness made it difficult for her to keep track of time, but "the clock in the window", as Anna-Greta calls it, provides security and helps her to follow her daily routines.
Anna-Greta has lived on Muskö for basically her entire life. She was born and grew up on the island, and all three of her siblings still live there. Her husband Birger ran a boatyard there, and Anna-Greta was at the heart of the operation, sewing boat covers. There was also a guest house in the yard where children and grandchildren would spend the summers.
Handicrafts have always been an important part of her life; she's always knitting a few pairs of socks for her family, friends and staff at the home care service.
Everyday life changed
As an active person, Anna-Greta finds it difficult to grasp that her memory is no longer the same as it was before, even if she is sometimes aware of her illness. She finds it easier to come to terms with her physical difficulties, for example that her sense of balance isn't the same as it used to be. She has always highly valued her freedom and independence. She now misses the fact that she can no longer drive a car.
"It was tough for both mum and us before we knew what was going on. We noticed that she had difficulties in remembering appointments. Sometimes, mum thought that her family was with her, although we were in town, and sometimes she would wake up not knowing where she was. When she rang us, we had to convince her that she was at home and try to distract her; we would talk about the day's events instead", explains Ulrika.
Today, Anna-Greta lives alone in the house on Muskö. The home care service comes in the mornings and evenings, while her daughters, Ulrika and Kristina, take turns to visit. The island has a tightly-knit community, and the pensioners in the neighbourhood eat lunch together every week. It's an occasion Anna-Greta really enjoys.
"Some people might think that it's a little desolate out here on Muskö, but I feel safe here and don't have to fit with everyone else. Here, I can just do what I want", she says.
With the right support, it has become easier to follow routines
Anna-Greta needs support in order to remain in her home. In addition to care from her family, the home care and transport services, Anna-Greta needs support to continue to perform household chores independently. Every day, she prepares her meals, empties the dishwasher, throws out the rubbish and takes her medicines.
In order to reduce the number of things that are forgotten, the family now uses a combination of a paper calendar and the digital calendar clock CARY Base.
"Mum is really good at writing things down on her paper calendar. The problem is that we, her family, can't view the calendar remotely. When mum calls and asks about something that's written on it, it's difficult for us to completely understand what she means", says Ulrika.
"But with the digital calendar, relatives can connect to CARY Base via the myAbilia app and both view and enter activities using a mobile", she continues.
Activities are individually adapted for Anna-Greta by adding photos of their choice and voice messages. A visual and audible reminder appears before each activity.
Maintaining better awareness of time
Anna-Greta calls CARY Base "the clock in the window" because it's placed in a window where she can keep an eye on it from her favourite chair. According to Anna-Greta herself, the best thing is that she can quickly see the date, day of the week and time of day. It can be especially difficult to know whether it's afternoon or night-time during the long, dark hours of winter.
- Sometimes, you wonder "What on earth is the day today?", but you can give it a glance and find out straight away.
Feeling safe and free
CARY Base has brought greater peace and calm to everyday life, and Ulrika and Kristina feel even more involved in their mother's life.
"As a relative of a person with dementia, you don't always know what the person is thinking, what she's doing and what's going on in her mind. Since we've had the assistive device, it has become easier to meet mum in her own world, and we can discuss what will happen during the day in a clearer way. Mum has become calmer, and it's security for us to know that she can continue living in her home and cope with most of what goes on in her daily life", says Ulrika.
Being able to remain in her home means that Anna-Greta can continue living her life under her own conditions. In addition to socialising with friends, siblings, children and grandchildren, the high point of the day is every moment that she can keep busy and go out.
"Freedom and feeling healthy is important to me", concludes Anna-Greta.