Repetition in Alzheimer Care
Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may engage in repetitive questions or actions. For instance, a senior with Alzheimer’s disease may ask “what time is it?” repeatedly or pack and unpack the same bag. The repetitive actions may stem from other dementia behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as anxiety, frustration, or insecurity. Whatever the cause, the caregiver must adopt certain strategies when engaging residents with repetitive behavior.
Dementia Care Strategies
Dementia care often requires addressing the emotion and not the logic, and addressing repetitive behaviors in seniors with dementia is no exception. When speaking to a senior with dementia who engages in repetitive questions, respond to the expressed emotion and not the particular question. For instance, if the senior keeps asking “when is my mother coming home” do not reorient the senior to the reality that her mother cannot come to visit because she passed away many years ago. Instead, respond to the underlying emotion of loneliness and insecurity. Assure the senior in a calm voice that you will stay with her and that she is safe at home.
Repetitive behavior can be an attempt by the senior with Alzheimer’s disease to express a need or desire. Accordingly, respond to the senior’s basic needs such as toileting, eating, and drinking.
At times repetitive questions are simply due to the fact that the resident doesn’t remember asking the question in the first place. In response, provide the answer in a calm, reassuring tone and repeat the answer as necessary. A meaningful memory cue such as a clock for the time or sign on a door can help, but only if the senior with Alzheimer’s disease can make sense of the object, sign, or memory cue.
Sometimes an activity can be a welcome distraction for seniors with repetitious behavior. A short walk or brief physical activity can bring a line of repetitive questioning to a close.