For those of us who have regular contacts with aging parents or grandparents, part of our social interactions with our loved ones involves hearing the same stories, comments, or feelings expressed repeatedly. For some, this can be a distracting, confusing, or even irritating phenomenon. Family members may even feel that the repeated comments are inaccurate or offensive and just wish they could somehow make it stop!
It is very common for people with Alzheimer’s Disease to ask the same question over and over and to get “stuck” on a certain topic. One thing you can do is gently redirect them into an activity or into a different conversation. You can answer the question first, and then say, “Dad, would you like to come into the kitchen and help me make a snack?” or “Mom, how about if we go for a walk around the block together?” Remember, the person with dementia isn’t intentionally being difficult—their brain has just changed, and they can no longer process information the same way.
Here are a few tactics you can try in response to this type of repetition:
- Encourage your loved one to find the answer to the question they keep repeating.
- Your loved one may become anxious about future events, which can lead to repetition—avoid mentioning the trip until a short time before it takes place.
- Reassure your loved one that they are safe and loved.
- Try letting the repetitive actions run their course.
- Ask your loved one to tell you more about their concerns—sometimes drawing out the conversation can stop the repetition.
- If your loved one is using repetitive phrases or movements, this can be due to a noisy or stressful surroundings or boredom.
- Keep your loved one engaged in activities they used to enjoy.
- Try distracting your loved one with their favorite treat or song when they are repeating words or questions.
- If your loved one becomes fixated on an object, distract them and remove.
For more information and tips about responding to repetition with senior loved ones, please go to: https://www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/learn/quick-tips/repetition or contact our member, Mike Brunt with Home Instead.