Remember that movie “Groundhog Day” where actor Bill Murray is forced to repeat the same day over and over? Sometimes being a caregiver for an older adult who has dementia can feel a little like that. One of the more frustrating behaviors associated with dementia is repetition. They may say the same word or phrase over and over. Or, they might perform the same action several times in a row. It can be difficult to keep your cool and know how to respond to the behavior. Below are some tips that may help.
Try to Identify the Reason for the Behavior.
Look for patterns in when your aging relative exhibits repetitive behaviors. They may happen at a certain time of the day or when specific conditions are present. Try to determine if they are trying to ask for something or if they are trying to tell you something.
Focus on Feelings.
Instead of reacting to the behavior, think about the feelings that might be causing it. Asking a question over and over might be caused by anxiety. If so, responding with a gentle, reassuring touch might alleviate their feelings enough to stop the behavior.
Offer a Distraction.
Getting the older adult involved in an activity they enjoy or giving them a favorite snack can sometimes stop the behavior. Try making a simple craft or asking for their help in an easy household task, like folding towels or shelling peas. You could also try redirecting the conversation. Ask a question to get them thinking of something else, but make sure the question is simple enough for them to answer without causing frustration.
It does no good to argue with someone who has dementia because their reality is different from yours. Don’t remind them that they’ve already done or said something. Instead, try to remain calm. Answer any questions they ask using short, simple answers, then try to get them to move on.
Even when you know how to handle difficult dementia behaviors, you may still feel yourself getting frustrated frequently. This could be a sign that you’re suffering from caregiver stress and need a break. Senior care agencies usually have staff members who are experienced in caring for older adults with dementia. A senior care provider can ensure your aging family member is safe and cared for while you attend to other responsibilities or just enjoy some time for yourself. In addition to keeping older adults with dementia safe, senior care providers can also improve their quality of life by doing things like engaging them in meaningful activities, cooking healthy meals, and offering opportunities for them to socialize.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering senior care in Kent, WA, please contact the caring staff at Wiser Care Services. Phone: (877) 279-5530. Serving all of Pierce County and South King County.