How to Handle Repetitive Questions from People Living with Memory Loss
If you are a caregiver that provides Memory Care for someone living with Memory Loss, you may find yourself answering their numerousâ€”oftentimes repetitiveâ€”questions on a daily basis. Memory Loss, a condition where an individual experiences difficulty in recalling past events or forming new memories, can have a range of effects on a person’s behaviour. This can include the inability to retain information, difficulty performing regular daily tasks, disorientation, the inability to form words or sentences, and impaired judgement. Among these behaviours, repetitive questioning is one of the most common characteristics that affects the daily life of people living with Memory Loss.
Why Do People Living with Memory Loss Exhibit Repetitive Questioning Behaviour?
Studies indicate that the primary reason why people living with Memory Loss exhibit this behaviour is to reconstruct their memories or fill in the gaps in their recollection of events. At its core, this behaviour typically stems from a loss of recall and an inability to retain information long-term.Â
As a result, individuals with Memory Loss may struggle to remember the answers to questions they have previously asked, leading them to ask the same things over and over again. Further complicating matters, they may not even be aware that they’ve asked the same questions repeatedly.Â
How Should You Respond to Repetitive Questioning?
While responding to repetitive questioning, at times, can be taxing for caregivers, understanding why people with Memory Loss exhibit this behaviour is crucial to supporting them. Here are some tips to help caregivers respond with empathy, patience, and kindness.
Try to Understand Their Feeling Behind the Repetition
Take the time to understand the underlying feelings and concerns behind their repeated questions. For example, they may be seeking reassurance or trying to piece together fragmented memories.Â
Try to Give Short Answers
Only respond with short answers that directly relate to their questioning. It is crucial to respond in a calm and respectable manner. This response will also help the care partner fosters trust and promote overall well-being for the person living with Memory Loss.
Try to Find Solutions for Questions Repeated Every Day
Consider the frequent questions asked daily. To help with inquiries about the date or time, place visual aids that help answer these questions in familiar areas of the home. These aids can feature voice overs for those with vision impairment.Â
Distract from the Anxiety That Is Causing the Questioning
As the repetitive questioning can be caused by a form of boredom, anxiety, or uncertainty, distract the person living with Memory Loss with a favourable activity, snack, or program. Ask for their help in folding laundry or a household task they are able to perform.Â
Change the Subject
For some people living with Memory Loss, their interest doesnâ€™t lie in the topic specifically but rather in communicating in general. In certain cases, it is simply acceptable to quickly change the subject to a topic that may be more familiar or exciting for the person living with Memory Loss.
Take Them Away from Stress-Causing Situations
For times when the repetitive questioning causes undue stress or concern for the person living with Memory Loss, consider a new environment. Taking a walk, drive, or visit to a friendly and calm atmosphere can help reduce the constant questioning.Â
Practice Patience and Empathy
With dementia, patience and empathy goes a long way for everyone involved. Use compassion when talking or performing tasks for the person living with Memory Loss. The biblical Golden Rule â€œdo unto others what you would have them to youâ€ comes in handy for care partners.Â
Rely on Support from Family and Professionals
While most care partners live as if they have superpowers, it is crucial to ask for help from other family members and close friends. Many areas offer local organizations with supportive programs and trained professionals.Â
Memory & Companyâ€™s Respite Care Hotel Service
If youâ€™re looking for short-term Respite Care in Toronto or long-term dementia care in the nearby area, Memory & Company offers a VIP club-type atmosphere for those living with a form of Memory Loss. Our social, physical, and support programs are designed for the Member and their care partner.Â
Victor Kwong is the Founder, Co-Owner, and Director of Innovation & Technology at Memory & Company. He has a background in teaching and policing, and currently works as a spokesperson, Public and Media Relations Officer for a metropolitan police department. Victor is passionate about working with seniors and maintaining human interaction. He is also the recipient of an award for rescuing seniors from a fire at a long-term care facility and the recipient of a life-saving award for resuscitating a passenger and coordinating the subsequent emergency landing of an international flight.