By Beverly Theis, LCSW, Abe’s Garden and Park Manor Director of Resident and Family Support
It can be very frustrating when a loved one with dementia repeatedly asks the same question. When this happens, take a deep breath and answer the question again.
Then, try redirecting the conversation with a new topic. For example, “Do you see the man down the street walking his dog?” Talk about the dog, and what types of dogs or pets your loved one had in the past. This may trigger memories and add new life to your conversation.
Individuals with dementia often repeat themselves if a need hasn’t been met. For example, your mother may say something like “I want to go home” when you are already home. She may be needing to be comforted in some way. It may help to provide reassurance that you want to make her comfortable, and you want her to feel safe.
Try to get a sense of the emotion behind what is being said instead of just focusing on what is being said. Does your loved one seem frustrated? If so, try moving on to doing something else. Try an activity like having them help you wrap up a ball of yarn or reading together. If your loved one seems anxious, try reassuring them and offering a cup of tea to relax. Does it seem that your loved one just can’t remember certain things? If they are still able to read and comprehend writing, try writing them notes to remind them of the answers to their questions.
It may be good to consider a time of respite for yourself. Abe’s Garden provides memory care options: At Home with Abe’s Garden (in-home caregiver training), Abe’s Garden Community Group (early stage dementia day program), and The Club (day program).
Additional caregiving tips, including ways to communicate, can be viewed on the Abe’s Garden YouTube channel.