Each person with dementia is an individual with different needs so there is no best way of dealing with a particular behaviour. It may help to try out a number of approaches if the person is unable to tell you how they are feeling. Ask for advice from professionals or
other carers before you become too stressed. Try to remember that the person you are caring for is not being deliberately difficult, and make sure you have support for yourself, someone to talk to, and breaks whenever you can.
The person with dementia may ask the same question over and over again. They probably do not remember asking the question or the answer you gave because of their short-term memory loss. Feelings of insecurity or anxiety about their ability to cope may also play a
part in repetitive questioning.
• Try to be tactful when answering. Don't say ‘I have just told you that’, as this will increase feelings of anxiety.
• Try to get them to find the answer for themselves if possible. For example, ‘Is it lunch time?’ ‘Have a look at the clock.’ ‘Do we need more milk?’
‘Why don't you look in the fridge?’
• Try to distract them with an activity.
• Make an excuse to leave the room for a while if you cannot contain your irritation.
People with dementia often become anxious about future events and this can lead to repetitive questioning. If this seems to be the case, tell them that someone is coming to visit, or that you are going shopping, for example, just before the event happens.
This means that they will have less time to worry.
Repetitive phrases or movements
Sometimes people with dementia repeat the same phrase or movement many times. You may hear this referred to as 'perseveration'.
• It may be due to some kind of discomfort. Check that they are not too hot or cold, thirsty or constipated.
Contact the GP if there is any possibility they are ill, in pain or adversely affected by any medication.
• They may be finding their surroundings too noisy or stressful.
• They may be bored and trying to stimulate themselves. Try to encourage an activity such as stroking a pet, going for a gentle walk, or listening to some gentle music.
• It may be due to the damage that has occurred in the brain. Simply offer as much reassurance as you can.
For more information or support call the Alzheimer National Helpline 1800 341 341