When your loved one asks you a question the first time, you may go into detail and provide a thoughtful answer.
By the time they’ve asked the same question for the tenth time, your nerves are frayed and your temper starts to rise. That’s when your caregiving skills are tested once again.
It’s easy to snap. When you’re tired, hearing the same thing over and over again can make you question everything. But it’s important to remember that the person you are caring for isn’t doing this to frustrate you. Repetitive behavior is caused by fear and stress.
When your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, they are often unsure of what’s happening. And that can leave them feeling scared and unsure. They repeat a question because they’re looking for reassurance from you that everything will be okay.
Approach it from this angle and you’ll quickly reduce the stress.
Shorten your answers
It’s tempting to sit down and provide a thoughtful answer, especially to a question that can be answered in many ways. And while that may be appropriate in some cases, when you start to feel tension in your loved one, find the quickest answer possible and move on. Avoid saying things like: I just told you that. That only leads to more stress.
Give a hug or a touch
You might be busy when you provide your answers. You might have your hands full and be on the move. But when you see the repetition pattern happening, put everything down and provide a little touch. You can hold their hands and give a gentle squeeze. Or lean in for a hug. This simple calming move may be just what they need.
Change the scene
Sometimes the only way to stop the questioning is to do something else instead. Change their focus by doing something different. Bring out a book to read. Ask if they’d enjoy a cup of tea. Or find their sweater and take them outside for a walk. Even simple chores such as sorting laundry can put their mind in a different place.
When all else fails, give yourself a few minutes to calm down. Go to the bathroom. Run to the laundry room to put in a load of clothes. Find a meditation app you like and “escape” for five minutes.
Give yourself the time you need to center and calm. Because you can only provide the best caregiving you can give when you’re at your best.