Chapel Hill Senior Topics: Why Do Alzheimer’s Patients Ask the Same Question Over and Over?

April 18, 2017

Alzheimer’s patients have certain mannerisms in common such as being repetitive. We often ask simple, basic questions repetitively throughout our life such as “What time is it?” or “Is it time to go home?”. Some questions are very common and we use them repetitively over our lifetime. They are embedded in our memory and many Alzheimer’s patients find these sentences comforting and feel confident asking and repeating them over and over. Due to the disease and loss of short term memory, they can’t remember if they have asked them once or many times. Caregivers can get frustrated with the constant and frustrating questioning.

Many Alzheimer’s patients may be trying to express a specific concern that they have, but may have trouble identifying it or explaining it. They become frustrated, insecure and depressed with the disease and how if effects them. It troubles them to no longer be able to recall information or remember minor things. This can be particularly difficult for a caregiver especially if they continually repeat the answer or respond negatively to the constant questioning.

Environmental factors can also effect the behavior causing it to escalate around a certain time of day, a certain person or their surroundings. Answering the question or redirecting are the best way to handle the questions. Often times the caregiver can ask if there is something you need to do at that time which might provide a means for conversation and distraction. When the patient asks for home, it might indicate that they merely want comfort and security and would enjoy talking about home. Additionally, the caregiver may write the answer to the question on a piece of paper, so that the person can read it and look at it for comfort.
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