Cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affects short-term memory.  If you’re the caregiver of someone who continuously asks the very same questions, it can lead to frustration, or mental exhaustion on your part.  How can you remain patient and understanding when dealing with a loved one, who is suffering from a condition that causes damage to their brain cells?

  1. When your loved one repeats a question try to be empathetic.  They are probably asking the very same question repeatedly because they might feel anxious, insecure, confused, maybe even afraid. Dementias cause a decline in someone’s ability to make sense of the world. So give your loved one a brief hug, or gently squeeze their hand, while answering the question in a very composed manner.  Your calmness might help to soothe, refocus and provide them with some measure of security.

2.  When responding to your loved one, keep your answers brief which helps save time and energy. If your responses are lengthy, you might lean towards becoming curt and impatient.  Make sure you provide the answers they are seeking, refrain from using logic and don’t become argumentative.

3. Try to distract your loved one by redirecting them to some activity like helping you with a chore. You might also try shifting the conversation to another subject.

4. If your loved one can still read, use a whiteboard or calendar that can be seen by them to write down any appointments or activities for the day. So that if you are asked what’s in store for the day, you can refer them to the info you’ve written down.  With practice, checking the whiteboard or calendar can become part of your loved one’s morning routine. Although people with dementia have memory problems, they are often still able to learn new habits with repetition.

5. It is difficult not to lose it when someone is repeating the same question over and over again. Everyone has a breaking point.  Feel free to take a break from your situation for a few minutes just to calm your spirit and keep a cap on your temper. Step outside, do deep breathing exercises, check out your Facebook page, do what you need to do in order to better handle your stress level so that you can treat your loved one with respect and kindness.

According to cognitive impairment researchers, question repetition is oftentimes a sign that the affected person is in need of some form of reassurance. Sometimes answering their question is enough but you just might have to step into their shoes so that you can truly summon up patience.