As a caregiver of someone with dementia, one of the most difficult things is to watch your loved one go through seemingly endless cycles of repetition, whether with individual words, phrases and questions, or actions. This can be extremely frustrating or annoying if you are not used to your loved one acting in this way. Oftentimes, the person is simply seeking comfort or familiarity, as the disease is causing a deterioration in the brain that causes them to lose much of their short-term memory and become disoriented with everyday tasks. It’s important to keep in mind that your loved one is not trying to annoy you, but they may be simply dealing with their own frustration caused by the condition.
If you are caring for someone who has dementia and are dealing with issues of repetition, here are five things that you can do to make the situation better for you and your loved one.
Stay Calm and Give Reassurance
Something to remember is that the person you are caring for is looking for security, therefore it’s important to stay calm and offer them words or actions of reassurance. This may mean gently touching their arm and offering the answer to their question in a calm voice. The situation will be better for both of you if you take the lead in being a steady presence.
Oftentimes, your loved one will ask repetitive questions. It’s very likely that they have either forgotten that they already asked you the question or they have forgotten your answer. One thing you can do is write down the answer to their question and show them the next time they ask. This can also help you stay calm if you are feeling overwhelmed by the repetition.
Keep Notes and Look for Patterns
If your loved one is asking the same types of questions or repeating the same words or phrases, it’s a good idea to write them down and keep notes on behavior and emotions. This will help guide medical professionals as well when you are able to describe certain repeat behaviors. It’s possible that there is an underlying insecurity that can be fixed if you are able to identify the root cause of the repetition.
Engage in Calming Activities
Sometimes a physical or mental distraction can help calm someone with dementia who may be anxiously engaging in repetitive actions. Perhaps taking them on a walk or providing a light chore to keep them busy will help smooth over a situation that is giving them anxiety. This will give them a distraction and can potentially break the cycle of repetition in their mind.
Share and Support
Most importantly, as a caregiver you need support as well. It’s important to share your experiences with others who may be going through a similar experience with a loved one. Join a support group and make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Others in the group may be able to share their best practices, which could work for you as well. Being the caregiver of someone with dementia is a major life challenge, therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure that you are also taken care of emotionally and mentally so that you can provide the best support to your loved one.
If you have a loved one with dementia, and you need assistance taking care of them within the comfort of their own home, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We have a network of established professional caregivers who can assist you with anything from minor tasks to full-time care of your loved one. We are happy to help you.
Witrogen, B. (2017, January 20). HealthDay. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/aging-1/misc-aging-news-10/repetitive-behavior-and-alzheimer-s-646297.html
Repetition and Alzheimer’s | Caregiver Center. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2017, from http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-repetition.asp?WT.mc_id=enews2017_02_22&utm_source=enews-aff-33&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2017-02-22