Tuesday Tips for Caregivers – How to Deal with Repetition in a Loved One with Memory Loss
If you’re a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may have noticed that your aging loved one sometimes uses repetition to try to soothe him or herself. He might ask the question over and over again or repeat a word or phrase. Your loved one may also perform a repetitive motion.
When a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s repeats the same question, statement, phrase, or movement it can be frustrating as you stand by helplessly, watching or being forced to repeat your answers as if speaking to a toddler. What can you do?
Coping with Repetitive Alzheimer’s Behaviors
1. Stay Calm Don’t get upset or frustrated, or at least try your best to hide these feelings. Like a toddler who constantly asks, “Why?” Your loved one needs support and understanding. He or she probably doesn’t remember asking the same question seconds ago.
2. Use Soothing Language Remaining calm gives you the opportunity to soothe your loved one with reassuring words. Speaking softly and slowly, remind them they are safe. Some phrases you can use: “I’m here with you.” “You’re safe with me.” “Everything is okay.”
3. Provide Reminders If your loved one asks the same question about the timing of an activity, an upcoming visit, or a doctor’s appointment, you can place reminder notes in prominent places. For instance, if a close friend visits every Tuesday for lunch, you can place a sticky note that says “Lunch with Shirley at 12:30 Tuesday,” on the refrigerator.
4. Channel Their Behavior Your loved one might get stuck in a pacing pattern, or rub their hand over the table continuously. You might break up the repetitive behavior by giving your loved one a task or activity. Suggest taking a walk. Hand them a cloth and ask if they’d like to help you dust. Give them a basket of towels to fold. If the behavior isn’t bothering you, and doesn’t seem to be bothering them, it’s okay to let it continue. Your loved one may be self-soothing with the behavior.
5. Use Music to Soothe Alzheimer’s Patients Alzheimer’s patients often use repetition to soothe themselves, but caregivers can also provide repetitive activities for their loved one to create familiarity and comfort. For instance, some studies show repetitive rhythms and verses of music may be soothing to Alzheimer’s sufferers. Board certified music therapist Julie Martin uses the same song, a calming, simple and repetitive song, to greet her patient’s each time she sees them. Music can help Alzheimer’s patients re-connect with some of their memories and communicate with loved ones.
Being the caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is stressful. Whether you need short-term respite care or long-term assistance, we can help you manage a loved one’s disease.
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Feel free to call us at (888) 285-0093. Thanks for joining us for today’s Tuesday Tips for Caregivers and we’ll see you again next week!