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Tuesday, 05 December 2017 00:00

Repetition and Dementia: Navigating the Question Loop

As a care giver of someone living with dementia, you most likely encounter a set of the same questions which tend to play on a loop, day in and day out. The repetition of questions and answers is largely dependent on the stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Nevertheless, there is a fine balance which is needed when having to answer these questions on a daily basis, multiple times a day.


Managing Repetition and Dementia

Here are four of the most common questions you may be asked as a care giver, and how best to answer them.

1. “What’s wrong with me?”

This may be one of the most sensitive questions you’ll be asked on a daily basis. The best way to answer this question is with honesty. Tell your loved one or care receiver they have a problem with their short-term memory. If they ask whether it’s a disease, be honest and let them know the form of dementia or Alzheimer’s they suffer from.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be perceived with a negative stigma at times, so it’s important to reiterate to your loved one or care receiver that they are still ‘intelligent’. You can also use examples of well-known public figures who also suffer from either of these diseases to remind them you can still live a life of substance.

2. “I want to go home, what happened to my house?”

Gently remind your loved one where they are, and that their house was sold. It may be useful to remind them that this was a joint decision, which other siblings and family members agreed upon. If they ask about belongings, point out that you and other siblings or family members went through everything, and the most precious items are being well looked after.

3. “Is there a cure, what can I do to get better?”

This is where honesty is also the best policy. You need to be completely upfront with your loved one or care receiver and explain that there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s just yet. In the same breath, let them know that there are always ways to improve their quality of life.

Remind them that keeping active and saying yes to community activities which stimulate the mind are important to staying well. Encourage them to socialise as much as possible and take on projects such as knitting, crosswords, gardening or even caring for a small pet.

4. “Is there a future for me?”

This question is often derived from a feeling of hopelessness. In this instance, it’s important to remind your care receiver of all the things they have to look forward to in the near future. Talk about upcoming activities, group projects, social events, family or friend visits and even potential holidays to look forward to.

Repetition and dementia is the most common side effect of this disease and one that can be taxing for any care giver, family member or friend. It’s therefore important to develop an understanding of how to answer and navigate these questions with patience and tact – as it will become a large part of your job as a care giver.

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