A person with Alzheimer’s disease may do or say anything repeatedly, such as repeating a word, question, or action. The individual may also pace or undo something they have just finished. Most of the time, they are looking for comfort, familiarity, security, or reassurance.
It is quite possible that the person does not have an idea that they have been repeating the same question or action. In most cases, if someone repeats the same question, they require an emotional answer rather than a factual answer, likely because they are anxious or confused. These actions seldom cause harm to the patient but can be stressful for the caregiver.
WHAT CAUSES REPETITION IN DEMENTIA PATIENTS?
The primary cause of behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is the degeneration of neurons (brain cells), resulting in the decline of the person’s ability to make sense of their surroundings.
Memory loss due to the deterioration of neurons may be responsible for repetition in people with dementia. They may be unable to recall what they have said or done or the answer they got to a question. For instance, they may repeatedly check their wallet or bag or continuously check the refrigerator to ensure they have enough food.
Environmental factors might also induce or worsen symptoms. Alzheimer’s patients who ask questions repeatedly may be trying to express a particular concern, seek assistance, or cope with irritation, fear, or uncertainty.
Since people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia gradually lose the ability to communicate, it is critical to assess their comfort and anticipate their requirements regularly.
HOW TO RESPOND TO REPETITION
The following tips can help caregivers cope with this behavioral issue of your Alzheimer’s patient.
- Be patient and stay calm. Offer reassurance with a gentle touch and calm voice tone.
- Investigate the reason behind the repetition. Try to find out whether the behavior has a specific cause or trigger. For instance, if the person is repeatedly asking if they have been to the supermarket, they might be concerned about running out of food.
- Try to determine what may be triggering this behavior. For instance, does your patient exhibit this behavior at the same time of the day or around the same people?
- Concentrate on the emotion rather than the behavior. Instead of responding to what the person is doing, think about how they are feeling.
- Turn the behavior or action into an activity. For instance, if the person is rubbing their hand across the table, give them a cloth and ask them to assist you with dusting.
- Provide an answer. Give the person the response they are seeking, even if you have to repeat it many times. Try to keep your answers brief.
- Engage your patient in an activity. They may simply be bored and in search of something to do. Provide structure and engage them in an enjoyable activity.
- Utilize memory aids. If the person with Alzheimer’s repeats the same questions again and again, provide reminders by using notes, calendars, clocks, or photos if these items are still significant to them.
- Place the items at easily accessible places. It will be helpful in case the person keeps on looking for a particular item.
- The person may continuously inquire about the day or time. Consider placing a calendar or clock where they can conveniently see it.
- Keep the life history of your patient in mind. For instance, they might feel the urge to keep wiping down surfaces if they used to work in a restaurant, café, or pub in the past.
- Accept and work with the behavior. Do not worry about it if it is not harmful. Find methods to work with it.