If you are a family member who provides home care for a loved one with dementia – or if you regularly visit someone who lives at a memory care facility – you likely understand the frustration of repetitive questions. Dementia patients often ask the same questions repeatedly or tell the same story over and over. Can a caregiver take any measures to help their loved one to ask fewer repetitive questions? The short answer is probably not.
People living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are no longer able to keep and retrieve short-term memories. They are not being inattentive or lazy – they really don’t remember that they asked you the same question multiple times.
Many family members believe that they can help their senior loved one remember things by leaving reminders and notes around their living space. In dementia’s early stages, this may be a useful exercise. However, as cognitive loss progresses, these notes will probably cause more anxiety than relief. If a dementia patient can’t remember that they are meeting someone for lunch, they won’t think to look for a reminder note. The same problem exists with apps on a phone or tablet – if the patient isn’t looking for the reminder, they likely won’t pay it heed.
Mental health professionals do offer various recommendations for dealing with repetitive statements and questions, but they are not for the benefit of the memory care patient. These recommendations are for those who love them and are frustrated by the repetitive behaviors.
- Relax and take a cleansing breath. Individuals with dementia are not trying to annoy or frustrate anyone. They honestly don’t remember making a similar request just moments ago. In their reality, they are asking for something for the first time. If you let the behavior bother you, they will feel your anger and frustration and will likely not understand your reaction to a basic question.
- Maintain an even tone, and don’t assume a threatening pose: Your loved one may feel anxiety or stress if your voice conveys anger or impatience, or if your body language appears threatening or aggressive. Try to maintain a positive and upbeat tone, whether you are answering their question for the tenth or the thirtieth time.
- Give yourself some physical space. It is understandable if you need to take a break and remove yourself from the room to calm down. It is essential to take care of yourself and ensure you keep your temperament on an even keel.
- Enlist help and support. Being the primary caregiver for dementia patients can significantly affect someone emotionally and physically. Whether you hire professional help, choose a memory care facility, or ask a family member to take a few shifts, be sure to ask for assistance.
One vital aspect of taking care of a person with dementia is to remember that their comprehension of what is happening is their reality. In other words, if your mother asks where her husband is, you are sure to agitate her by pointing out that her spouse is no longer alive. Sometimes it is best to enter their reality and play along to keep them calm.
If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia, repetitive questions are simply par for the course. If you need help with their care or are looking for a Venice area memory care facility that caters to dementia patients, call A Banyan Residence today.