According to our friends at the Alzheimer’s Association, a senior living with this disease who exhibits these behaviors is seeking a sense of comfort or familiarity.
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
Number one: 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.
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that you remind yourself that it is the disease not the person that is responsible for this behavior.
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.”
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.
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 purpose. 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
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.
The Ultimate Repetition: Creating a Routine
Finally, building repetition into the daily life of an Alzheimer’s patient by establishing a structured routine that adds comfort and clarity to your loved ones’ life. Five Star Senior Living’s Memory Care programs provide structure and routine for the residents.
Additionally, our Montessori-based Dementia Programming System uses repetition to promote success and positive engagement.
Being the caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is stressful. Whether you need short-term respite care or long-term assistance, a senior living community can be a partner in helping you manage a loved one’s disease.