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What to do when the person with dementia asks the same questions

by Monica Heltemes on 9/24/2014 to Dementia Activities

new resource, "Ask the OT". Caregivers often have questions or situations that come up in dementia care. Although one answer never fits all situations, having different perspectives on the issue can help - in this case the perspective of an occupational therapist (OT).

Why does the person with dementia say the same things over and over?

The easy answer, but one that can be hard to keep in perspective, is that the person does not remember that he or she already told you that piece of information or story. Yes, in literally seconds, the person can have forgotten what was just discussed. The diseased brain is like a sieve with holes in it. The information just leaks right out instead of staying in the brain as it should.

Sometimes the person may be doing it to get attention. I don't mean to say that the person is purposely doing it to get attention, but rather the person may be bored or even frightened and may be seeking conversation or reassurance.

Another possibility is that the person is having a strong memory of a past event. The fact that the person is experiencing memories is a good thing, but perhaps it is not a happy memory or an unresolved memory, that is worrying the person. In either case, the caregiver understanding that the dementia illness is causing this behavior, is important.

Is there a way I can reduce the dementia behavior of repetitive questioning?

Yes, there are strategies to try. If one does not work, try another. The repeating may not go away completely, but it likely can be reduced.