Q is for questions.
The same questions asked over and over again.
It's common among people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, to ask the same question (or set of questions) repeatedly. Wise is the care partner who looks for ways to both understand and cope with this. The alternative is a care partner with bald patches on their head, because this behaviour can definitely lead to the frustration of pulling out hair!
Here are ten tips to deal with repeated questions.
1) Remind yourself this isn't being done on purpose to frustrate you. It may be happening for any number of reasons, but a malicious plot isn't one of them. No matter how much it may seem that way, it isn't possible.
2) Stay calm, and put on patience like your winter coat. When it's been a long day and you are tired, it can be difficult to keep a patient, measured tone and answer the question as if it were the first time. Remove phrases like, "I told you..." and "Don't you remember..." from your vocabulary.
3) Look for patterns. Is there a certain time of day when these questions get more frequent? Is the person tired? Hungry? It might be possible, at least some of the time, to find an entirely different root cause to the questions. When that need is met, the questions may stop.
4) Ask yourself, "What's happening here?"Maybe the fourteen questions about an outing are really expressing anxiety. Maybe there's fear or frustration at the root of the questioning. Can you discover an emotion that is the cause of the questions?
5) Answer the question, even if you just finished answering the question. People with dementia process information more slowly, which may be why the repeated questions.
6) Distract. Sometimes, after answering, it's possible to turn the conversation around, or involve the person in another activity which stops the questions. There are times when this doesn't work, and you need to be sensitive. If your distraction is leading to frustration, drop it.
7) Accept it. Although this sounds harsh, if you are able to accept the repeated questions as a part of your relationship, it will be easier for you. Remember, although it is frustrating, this how you communicate at the moment. Find a way to make it work. Sometimes a big hug is enough to turn things around.
8) Keep a sense of humour. This tip more than any other will be your salvation.
9) Talk to others. There is a certain catharsis in sharing some of these difficult situations with others who are experiencing the same challenges.
10) Take a break. It may take a little planning and some investment of money, but a day away can work wonders in restoring your patience. Remember to look after you.
Questions are communication, and if they are repeated continually, that is also communication. Your job is to discover what is being said.