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How To Cope With Repetitive Questions From Seniors

Submitted by Guest Contributor:
Victoria Tan, Marketing Assistant
Discovery Village At Sarasota Bay
Bradenton, Florida

As a caregiver or family member for a loved one with a memory-related condition, you may find it frustrating when they ask repetitive questions. Although you may understand that this is partly caused by their condition, which they have no control over, it can nevertheless be tough to deal with.

This is especially true if you are already stretched at both ends with caregiving duties and other commitments. In this article, we share with you some ways you can cope with the repetitive questions your loved one or care recipient may ask you on a day-to-day basis.

Understanding the Symptoms of Dementia

Memory loss is a symptom of Alzheimer’s as well as other forms of dementia. As a condition that causes a slow decline of cognitive abilities, it is important to be familiar with and watch out for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

If you suspect that a loved one may have Alzheimer’s Disease, but they have yet to be diagnosed, seek professional assistance immediately if you recognize any of the below symptoms:

  • Changes in their ability to work with numbers and stick to plans, such as making mistakes when handling household bills
  • Confusion around the date, time and place they are currently in
  • Difficulty with completing familiar day-to-day tasks, including grocery shopping and meal preparation
  • Trouble joining in or following conversations, struggling to find the right words at times
  • Misplacing belongings and having trouble recalling where they last saw the item, possibly even accusing others of theft
  • Impaired judgment when it comes to daily living tasks
  • Poor short-term memory, which can result in them asking repetitive questions
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Becoming irritated when a daily routine is disrupted
  • … and more!

As a caregiver or loved one, it is important to understand that the other party can be equally frustrated as you are, sometimes even more. Finding strategies to cope with repetitive questions is the best course of action instead of expressing your frustration. We share with you some of these strategies below.

Identifying Triggers

Often, the repetitive questions someone asks will be based around a specific topic or occur at a specific time of day or day of the week. The best way to handle this is by identifying the trigger and removing it if possible.

For instance, if there is a photo of the person’s child or grandchild on the mantelpiece, they may ask where their child is each time they see it.

You may have told them numerous times that their child is away at work or attending to something else, but that information doesn’t stick, and you find yourself having to answer the same question time and again. When that’s the case, one way you can pre-empt this is by removing the photo. Over time, this will allow the individual to forget about it and focus on something else.

Distracting by Doing Something Else

Sometimes, it can be the case that you cannot remove the trigger in question, especially if it happens every day at a specific time. In such cases, the best thing you can do is to offer a distraction.

By giving them something new to focus on, they can take their minds off what they were preoccupied with previously. This can be something as simple as helping to fold laundry or dry the dishes, effectively redirecting their thoughts elsewhere while giving them something meaningful to do.

If your loved one has been feeling agitated because of their changing ability to attend to tasks they used to do effortlessly, ensuring that the activity is failure-free can help to instill a sense of purpose and achievement in them as a bonus to taking their minds off the question.

Take a Short Respite

From their perspective, memory loss caused by dementia will leave them feeling confused, and they ask questions to make sense of the world around them. However, you may find yourself losing your cool often, and you may be tempted to snap at your loved one when they have asked the same question for the umpteenth time.

After all, we are all human; our patience will eventually wear thin, especially if they have been doing it over some time on a daily basis.

Although you may be a caregiver, it is important to be kind, patient and give yourself the time of the day to take a breather as you would to your loved one. This could be something as simple as leaving the room to take a break for a few moments, doing deep, calming meditation exercises, reading a book, and listening to your favorite music.

Giving yourself a break from the situation could be rewarding as this would provide you time to collect your thoughts and feelings instead of letting your emotions get the better of you. In the long term, this would also reduce the chances of caregiver burnout, which is a huge social issue in the United States.

Introduce A New and Enjoyable Activity

What does your loved one or care recipient most like to do? When you find them asking the same question time and again, a great way of distraction is to introduce an activity they enjoy doing.

If they love looking through old photo albums and telling you about their experiences, pull out the albums and allow them to do just that. If they tend to get really relaxed when certain songs are playing, put on the type of music they enjoy. You may also wish to suggest activities that will require significant mental concentration, such as sorting a basket of fabrics by color or texture. Going for a walk can also help – it all depends on what calms your loved one down.

Consider Your Care Options

There’s no doubt about it: caregiving is exhausting.

If your loved one is living with a memory-related condition and you are not trained to provide the proper care, you may find yourself struggling to cope with the different symptoms presented by their condition.

On top of that, your other commitments may mean that you are unable to dedicate your full time and attention to caregiving that your loved one deserves. When that’s the case, you may have considered your residential memory care options.

In a residential senior living community that provides memory care, your loved one can benefit from compassionate caregivers who receive ongoing training in dementia care. In addition, a wide range of onsite amenities can provide the physical and mental stimulation that your loved one needs without you having to go out of your way to get them there.

Every aspect of your loved one’s life, from meals to socialization opportunities, will be taken care of based on the latest scientific-based approaches to dementia care.

Seeking Help When You Need It

It can feel like you are alone when you are struggling to care for a loved one with a memory-related condition. One thing to keep in mind is that you have options, and that there’s no shame in seeking help. With the multitude of care providers and options out there today, you can find the solution you need, regardless of whether home care, respite care or residential memory care is most suitable.

Victoria Tan

Victoria is the Marketing Assistant for Discovery Village At Sarasota Bay in Bradenton, Florida.


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