Repetition and Alzheimer’s
The main cause of behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s and other progressive dementias is the deterioration of brain cells which causes a decline in the individual’s ability to make sense of the world. In terms of repetition due to the Alzheimer’s the person may not remember that he or she has just asked a question or they may not remember what they just did. Even if they just completed something they may forget what task it was. This lapse in memory causes them to ask repeatedly about any given topic.
Environmental influences also can cause symptoms or make them worse. Changes in surroundings or different faces cause people with Alzheimer’s to questions repeatedly. Due to cognition they may have difficulty finding the right words to express a specific concern, ask for help, or cope with frustration, anxiety or insecurity.
- Look for a reason behind the repetition.
Pay attention when the repetition starts. Are there new faces or a new environment? Does it occur at night? Is he or she trying to communicate something?
- Focus on the emotion, not the behavior.
Instead of reacting to behavior focus on how they are feeling. Ask them and think about how they may be feeling at the time of the behavior.
- Turn the action or behavior into an activity.
If the person is pacing back and forth hand them a broom and ask them to help you tidy up. That can give them a feeling of contributing to their loved one.
- Stay calm, and be patient.
Keep an even temperament. Raising your voice makes the person feel like they are doing something wrong. Be reassuring and a calming factor. Do not try to reason with them, they cannot process information like they used to. Alzheimer’s affects memory, and he or she may not remember they asked a question already.
- Provide an answer.
Just answer the person. They do not remember they already asked the question. If they can still read and comprehend then write the answer down and refocus them on the paper with the answer.
- Engage the person in an activity.
Structure and engaging activities can help with feeling bored. There are times when they may feel like there is nothing to do. Sensory activities can stimulate them and decrease boredom.
- Use memory aids.
If the person asks the same questions over and over again, offer reminders by using notes, clocks, calendars or photographs. There are times when they forget they are home. So walk them through the house and ask them questions about photos and items.
- Accept the behavior, and work with it.
If the behavior is not harmful to themselves or others then don’t stress over it. Sometimes going with the flow of things is less stress for the care taker and less stress for the loved one.