How to deal with a dementia patient, who repeats the same questions?

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Caregiving, Laws & Regulations, Technology, Uncategorized, Wellness & Health

Introduction-

One of the most disturbing symptoms of dementia is: the person suffering from dementia repeats the same questions over and over. I will present you 6 ways that will help you maintain your peace in your communication with the patient. In addition, dementia patients will be helped to regulate stress and anxiety.

Why do dementia patients ask repetitive questions?

Most often, the dementia patient repeats the same questions, for two main reasons: a. He just forgot what he asked before. B. He feels anxiety, insecurity and tension which make him ask the same questions to calm the anxiety he is in.

For example: the day before Mom’s doctor’s appointment, Mom asked several times – whose appointment is and when is the appointment? On the day of the appointment itself, she asked the same repeated questions every 20 minutes. Also, a few hours before the actual appointment, she asked every 5 minutes, the same questions over and over again. This is because she became more nervous as the doctor’s appointment approached.

6 tips on how to deal with a dementia patient who repeats the same questions?

1. Live their current reality-

A very common and completely natural mistake is to correct the dementia patient. Also, to remind him that the reality that he forms as correct, is actually not correct.

Below is an example case: Shoshana (pseudonym), lived with her family in Haifa, in 2012, when her room was in the attic. Today, in 2019, her family moved to Nahariya, in an apartment without an attic. Shoshana, now with advanced dementia and asks repeated questions every day about the time when she still lived with her family in an apartment with an attic in Haifa, in 2012.

For example, questions like: “When will Bugs the dog come downstairs to my room?” or “When will you fix the banister on the stairs to my room?”

In the above case, Shoshana got stuck on certain significant events from her past, which causes her to remember them over and over again and therefore she repeats and asks about the same events over and over again.

The response that can be more helpful is to participate in her experience, for example: when she asks questions of the above type, you should respond as if we were still living in 2012 in an apartment with an attic in Haifa.

For example: “The dog is currently on a walk outside with one of the children.” Or one of the children will bring the dog to the attic, to keep you company.”

There can be situations in which the person with dementia will recognize where he is and what year he is living in, and there will be situations where he will not.

Below are interesting books on the subject of dementia:

2. Use white “lies”-

It is recommended to use them, especially in cases where the dementia patients wish to perform tasks that may endanger their lives. For example – let’s take the same lady Shoshana, if she insists on driving a car, because she is sure that she drives well. It is absolutely permissible, in order not to hurt her feelings, to tell her that the vehicle is now in the garage and cannot be used. It is better to give space to their feelings, than to try to explain things to them that they will not understand or remember anyway.

Another reason why you should use a white lie is to prevent them from pain or grief. For example: explaining to Shoshana that her sister has passed away may cause her pain and sadness, which the family members taking care of her will have to deal with. Instead, it’s better to tell her that her sister is out shopping now. Which will cause Shoshana, most likely about 20 minutes later, to forget that this fact has already been told to her and she will ask the same question again.

Using white lies, for the demented person, is a better way than telling him the truth that could hurt him and make him in a bad mood. Especially, when there is a reasonable chance that that person will forget the truth that was told to them about 20 minutes later.

You are invited to join our WhatsApp group – on old age diseases:

3. Distract them-

Dementia patients sometimes have a question stuck in their head and they can’t find ways to get rid of it. The way of action that helps them in these situations is to distract them with an action or a task that needs to be done. For example, let’s take Shoshana’s family, if Shoshana asks the same question over and over again, it is very useful to distract her with a sentence like: “Let’s make the sandwich together”. Or “come fold the clothes with me now” etc.

4. Prepare a white memory board for them –

It is very advisable to prepare a small white board for them, on which they will have a list of what tasks they need to perform during the day. When the tasks are written on the board, the demented person does not need to ask the same questions over and over again, because everything is written in front of his eyes. Even if he asks the same question again, just show him the white board with his tasks for the day and it can calm him down for the next few minutes.