Caregivers: Dealing with Repeated Questions

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, people often repeat the same question over and over – as if their mind is caught in an endless loop. This behavior can be tiresome for caregivers. But it is important to know that your loved one is not trying to annoy you. Instead, your Mom or Dad may be feeling insecure or fearful. They repeat questions to feel in control – a feeling that is being lost slightly more and more each day. Repeating questions can drive you crazy but it provides comfort to your loved one!

Here are a few tips for how to cope with repeated questions:

  • Try to remain calm and patient and answer the question. Try to understand what your Mom or Dad may be feeling. And, don’t point out that your Mom or Dad has asked the same question repeatedly.
  • After answering the question, redirect your loved one to a favorite activity or pastime. This can help get their mind off the question and also can help them to feel more secure and confident.
  • It is helpful to beat them to the question! We have a resident here at [url=http://www.seniorlivingresidences.com/communities-bayview-memory/]The BayView Memory Support Neighborhood [/url]who is always asking about her keys. When I see her start fishing around in her handbag I know that she will eventually ask a question about where her keys are. I provide the answer before she has to ask with a simple phrase like, “Are you looking for your keys? I forgot to tell you that your son is holding on to them for you.”
  • Use notes to jog memories. For example, if your Mom or Dad constantly asks what time dinner is, place a note with “dinner time” listed on the kitchen table or someplace else where he or she will see it throughout the day.
  • Many families coping with Alzheimer’s don’t want to “lie” to their loved one. But this is absolutely ok. For example, one of our residents always asks where her husband, who died years ago, is now. To tell her the truth – that her beloved husband had died – would be so hurtful; she would be in shock and mourning as if it were the first time she had been told. We simply say that he is having lunch or playing golf with one of their sons and that he will be back later. This is the kindest way to handle repeated questions about where someone is who has passed away.

Caregivers are under enormous stress. You may be struggling with how to handle your family member while feeling guilty and a profound sense of loss. Remember to take care of yourself! You can talk with friends, a counselor, or join a local support group to have a supportive place to voice your frustration and grief. Make sure you take adequate breaks from caregiving. When things get tough and you really need a break or want to go on vacation, forgo your guilt and take advantage of Alzheimer day care centers, in-home respite, and [url=http://www.seniorlivingresidences.com/hotel-style]Respite Stays in Assisted Living communities [/url] and nursing homes.

Online Resources:
Alzheimer’s Helpguide
http://healthresources.caremark.com/topic/alzrepeat

Helpful Books:
The 36-hour day: a family guide to caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and memory loss in later life by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins
Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal by Beth Witrogen McLeod

(Categories: Caregiving, Repeated Questions)

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