Changes in behaviour
He used to ask me the same thing over and over again and it used to drive me round the bend sometimes. It was usually about when the bus for the day centre was coming, what time was dinner, things like that. So now I try to remind him about things as I talk and I put up reminders on the fridge door. He still asks, but not as often. I can either answer or just point to the fridge. It helps me to keep my patience longer.
When somebody keeps asking you the same question over and over again, you may be inclined to think that they are deliberately trying to annoy you. However, this is unlikely to be the case with someone with dementia. They might simply have forgotten having asked a question or that the question has been answered. The question might represent some worry that they have and need to be reassured about. Such repetitive questioning can be extremely tiring and irritating for you, and frustrating for the person who is permanently waiting for an answer and may feel anxious or insecure.
How to cope with repetitive questioning
Write down the answer and draw the person’s attention to it when asked
You could see if answering the question helps. But rather than constantly repeating the same answer, it may help to write down the answer and show it to the person with dementia. But don’t forget that the person’s ability to read is likely to deteriorate over time and that eventually they may be unable to read notes. Also, although it might make you feel better, repetitive questioning is often the sign of anxiety or insecurity and writing down the answer will probably not provide the reassurance needed.
Provide reassurance as well as an answer to the question
The person with dementia might repeatedly ask you what time it is. The reason for this may be that they are worried about being late for an appointment. Knowing the time is not as important as the need to be reassured that they will not be late. Consequently, it may be more effective to keep reassuring the person that you will ensure they are not late than to constantly remind them of the time.
Ignore the question and get a break
If none of the above suggestions work, you may find that the only solution is to simply ignore the question. The person might eventually realise that he or she will not get an answer and stop asking the question. However, although this response might work with some people, it might anger others. For your own peace of mind, if all else fails, perhaps the best thing for you to do is to leave the room, if only for a few minutes.
Last Updated: Monday 10 August 2009