How to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Repeats the Same Thing Over and Over

November 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can cause problems with short-term memory. This can result in repetitive behaviors, such as asking the same question or saying the same things over and over. This can get frustrating for caregivers to deal with, which is why it’s helpful to lean on Alzheimer’s in home care for extra assistance.

It may give you some peace of mind to remember that repetition is common in people with Alzheimer’s, whether repetition of a single word, question or activity, and is a way for them to seek comfort, security and familiarity, says Alzheimer’s Association. It’s also important to remember that your aging loved one isn’t doing this to annoy you on purpose. They are not even aware they’re asking the same question 20 times in a row.

This is why you need to arm yourself with kind and patient techniques that aim to change the subject or halt the flow of questions before you become too frustrated.

Tips

The next time the repetitive behavior starts, do your best to remain calm and recall these four tips to respond in productive ways that stop the behavior in its tracks.

1.     Respond to Emotions Rather Than Words

When your loved one starts to repeat something, try to determine which feelings could be behind the behavior. If they’re feeling anxious, for example, give them a hug or hand squeeze while you calmly respond, which will likely soothe them enough to stop.

2.     Make Your Answers Brief

You may automatically feel the need to respond or answer the question just like you would anybody else. However, in this case, it’s best to keep your response short and sweet. This will save time and energy while reducing your exasperation.

3.     Distract Them With an Activity

Often times, the only way to get your loved one to stop repeating themselves is to offer a distraction with something they like or enjoy. Perhaps this is a favorite beverage or snack. Or you could pose a simple question so they can switch tracks and start thinking about something else, such as “Today is such a beautiful day. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Isn’t it so nice?”

You could also ask them to help you with a basic task, such as folding some laundry or choosing between two items for dinner.

4.     Escape For a Few Minutes

Even the most patient caregivers lose their cool at some point. It’s hard not to snap at someone who is being repetitive. It’s normal for your patience to wear thin, especially if this is something that has been going on for days or weeks. But the advice is the same as when your baby is crying or your toddler is incessantly asking “but why?” over and over again…give yourself a brief timeout.

Make sure they’re safe, then take a few minutes to calm down in another room. You can do a quick calming exercise, such as meditation, step outside for a breath of fresh air, or listen to a favorite tune.

This will give you some time to cool off so that when you come back, you’ll be better able to handle your loved one’s repetitive behavior with kindness. This is also a good time to think about enlisting some help for those days, or even a few hours in a day, where you just need a break. This is where Alzheimer’s home care can be extremely beneficial.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Preferred HealthStaff caregivers are trained and certified to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s care, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.