Dealing with Repetitive Questions

August 13, 2020 | Caregiver Resources

As memory declines, an individual with a memory impairment may ask repetitive questions as they may not be able to remember simple facts about their life that previously were common knowledge. One thing to combat repetitive questions is leaving reminder sticky notes around an individual’s living area that can provide reminders on things such as phone numbers, location of loved ones, visiting schedules, and other things. Pictures of family and friends can also be a comforting sight for someone struggling with memory. These can trigger memories and provide something tangible that can be looked at or carried around to provide reassurance. It can become very easy to get frustrated when your loved one is continuously asking questions, but it is critical to not become angry with them for forgetting something that they should know, as they are also frustrated that they cannot maintain these memories. 

Another challenge that can be hard to manage is repetitive questions about sensitive topics such as a spouse that has passed away, or parents that are no longer living. Often, individuals struggling with memory loss may ask when their spouse will come visit.  When an individual with dementia hears that their spouse has passed away (even if the loss was 10 years ago), the grief and loss that are felt can be experienced as if their spouse had just passed away that day. Instead of correcting them and telling them that their loved one has passed away, it would be better to change the topic and redirect them to a different activity that can help keep their mind of the topic. It may seem difficult to hide the truth, but ultimately you are protecting them from experiencing grief repeatedly as they may forgot within an hour after telling them that their loved one is gone. 

An individual with memory loss may also ask repeated questions about their previous career or life 30-40 years ago. Instead of arguing with them, living in the reality that they are in helps to prevent further anxiety and stress. The Alzheimer's Association provides some further helpful tips about repetition. To read more, click here