Page 12 - Miles for Memories Dementia Booklet 2022
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 Caregiver Solutions –
Responding to Repeated Questions
People with Alzheimer’s disease may repeat things... a lot.
Alzheimer’s disease and other de- mentias cause problems with short-term memory. This can lead to repetitive behaviors, like asking the same question over and over again. Your older adult isn’t doing it on purpose to annoy you; they truly have no memory of asking the first or third time.
In fact, repetitive behaviors are often caused by stress, anxiety, frustration, or fear. People with dementia may be unsure of what’s happening, where they are, or what time or day it is. It can be unsettling.
Your senior isn’t repeating ques- tions because they need the information. They’re asking be- cause they’re feeling stressed or anxious and need reassurance.
You might be able to answer patiently the first few times, but after hearing the same thing many times, it’s natural to
get frustrated or lose your temper. That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with techniques that stop the flow of the same questions before you get too frustrated.
Respond to the emotions, not the words. When your older adult starts to repeat a question over and over, try to guess what feelings might be causing the behavior. If they might be feeling anxious, giving a brief hug or hand squeeze while calmly answering the question may
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soothe them enough to stop their need to keep asking. You may need to also reduce some of the commotion in the room or adjust the temperature level.
Keep your answers brief. It’s tempt- ing to answer a question from a person with dementia the same way you’d answer anybody else, but the shorter and more simple your answer, the better. It saves you time and energy and reduces your exasperation when you have to repeat it several more times.
Redirect them with an activity.
Sometimes the only way to get your senior with dementia to stop repeat-
ing a question is to distract them with something they enjoy. Maybe that means offering a snack or favorite beverage. Maybe it’s time to go for a walk outside. The movement will be beneficial for both of you.
Or, you could ask them a simple question to get them thinking about something else. Be sure to give them time to respond to your question before asking a new one. A good rule of thumb is to give them at least 20 seconds to respond otherwise you’ll be the one asking the question again.
Another idea is to ask them to help you with a simple chore they’re still able to do, like folding laundry.
Try music. We are all very responsive to music. Does your loved one have a favorite genre? Gospel music? Country music? Big band music? Whatever they
enjoy most, find an app on your phone or T.V. that plays that style. You will be glad you did.
Escape for a few minutes. It’s
tough to keep your cool and not snap at someone when you’ve been asked the same question again and again. Every- one’s patience runs out at some point, especially if this isn’t the first time it’s happened today.
Sometimes you just need to leave
the room for a few minutes. Go to the bathroom, get a quick breath of fresh air, or check your Facebook feed. By the time you come back, you’ll have had some time to cool off and will be better able to handle your older adult’s behavior with kindness.
Bottom line: it’s challenging to respond to a repeated behavior or to answer a question that’s repeated over and over again without snapping or letting the frustration show in your voice. Do your best to stay calm and use these tips to respond in ways that are more likely to make the questions stop.
Keep in mind that their behavior is
an attempt to communicate something rather than frustrate you. Whether it’s an emotion, feeling too hot or too cold, or possibly even pain or discomfort, you will soon master the skill of interpretation through trial and error.
And if you do lose your temper, it’s be- cause you’re human. Forgive yourself and take a brief time out to help you stay calm.
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