Dementia and Repetition: What to Do When Someone with Dementia Keeps Repeating Themselves

Man with dementia and his daughterIt is common for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia to repeat questions and stories throughout the day, but it can pose a challenge for those who are caring for them. Below are some tips to help you support a loved one with memory loss who says the same thing over and over, and to help you cope with the repetition.

1. Check for distress:  Identify whether the repetitive question is problematic 

If your loved one does appear to be distressed in repeating a question or story, try to address the emotion behind what is being said.  Answer the question calmly each time it is asked, and be sure to answer as if it is the first time, every time.

If there is no distress, it may be that telling the story is enjoyable for your loved one with dementia. Breathe and try to have fun engaging with them about it. Consider introducing activities which could resolve the repetition – for example, if they are asking when dinner is, involve them in preparing the meal.

2. Stay calm: Focus on preventing frustration and arguments

Try to remember that repetition is a common part of memory loss and we cannot do much to change it. The person is unaware that they are repeating themselves, so it is not helpful to say to them, “you already told me that.”

3. Support feelings of safety, security, and reassurance

Identify and remove any possible triggers for the repetition. For example, if there is a reminder card for a doctor’s appointment on the counter and your loved one is asking about it repeatedly, remove the card and introduce a structured activity.

It is also possible that the person is repeating the first thing that comes to their mind because they can’t think of anything else to say.  Initiate interactive activities or change the subject to another topic that you know they enjoy talking about.

4. Seek advice

Remember that there are caring professionals who can help. Schedule a consultation with Seniors At Home’s dementia care experts to discuss and brainstorm interventions that support positive engagement with your loved one.

To schedule a family consultation with the Seniors At Home Center for Dementia Care, call 844-222-3212 or contact us online.