My mother, who is 96yrs old, has mixed dementia.
For the last two years she has asked the same questions over and over again.
No matter what we say or do her mind seems fixed on the same thing.
Can anyone offer any help?
I feel your pain! We have the same thing with my Dad but it’s usually about running out of food, dog food, locking doors etc so when we can physically show him, the fixation moves on to something else. What are the questions about with your Mum?
My Mum constantly asks where her Mum is. She passed away many years ago. No matter what I say she asks again soon after. I’m afraid there is nothing you can do to stop the same question being asked. The PWD has no short term memory so can’t retain the information you tell them.
Hello, @manic, welcome to Talking Point. This is a really common symptom of dementia and can be so frustrating to live with. Sometimes it seems that the mind is in a loop, and fixated on the same question. Sometimes I have found that the same questions are asked because my husband likes the security of k owing the answers already. So much in his world is confusing, so for comfort he likes to return to a familiar topic.
My dad has lost most of his speech, and the only words he retains (that I can understand) are 'how's.... *name of person*?'. So we have whole conversations over and over about how the people he's referring to are. He can't process the information so I always say the same reassuring things, and move on if I can. He asks about my mum repeatedly. She died 14 years ago
My FiL would ask the same question over and over - I once counted 35 times in one hour! You have my sympathy, since I know it can drive you bonkers.
I know it's not much help at all, but the only way I found to cope was to make a sort of separate compartment in my head, where I could go on answering nicely, but mechanically. I am not the most patient person in the world, but I did manage to train myself to do this. I could not show the slightest irritation, since he was apt to fly into appalling rages.
Might add that when we were new to it all, we thought a perfect answer to the questions he was asking over and over, was to make a laminated A4 sheet, with very clear answers in nice big print, that he could keep with him and refer to.
Alas, it made not the slightest difference.
Thanks for this. I've got used to answering mum's questions in a fairly routine and I hope reassuring way. They're generally about why she can't come home, why her mum doesn't visit (mum's nearly 97), or where her 'little dog' is (she never had one!)
I'd never thought that the repetition in itself could be reassuring, especially as she can't cope with conversation as such, so thanks for that.
This keep asking certain questions is part of the dementia road I initially had great trouble with. For my mum it is keep asking what day it is, or month or year. Partly I think it is fear of forgetting an important date eg birthdays, Xmas, etc, but at the same time having no specific event in mind. A general concern that “something will be forgotten”.
I found the best solution for me and mum is to try distraction. Mum is on a lot of pills so needs a lot of fluids to help the kidneys cope. So break up the questions about what day it is by asking what drink she would like eg tea, coffee, water. Or answer it is Wednesday so today it is ASDA shop day, or Monday so it is wash day. I try to keep to the established routine of many years and my mum can sometimes link an activity to a day, meaning the asking what day it is goes away at least during that activity and sometimes for a few hours after it has been completed.
Dementia is a cruel illness but what we need to remember is each time the same question is asked for the sufferer it is the first time. Difficult but with practice it gets easier. I have developed patience over the last year. Ironically I find the evenings when my mum has fallen asleep the hardest time. Answering the same questions over and over is an activity, distraction calling for a level of inventiveness. In the quiet hours I find my fears and concerns about the future creep in from the shadows. Caring is a lonely game and where do we pass our fears and concerns? Will I be able to cope with whatever fate brings, knowing when I have hit the point I need external care support, dreading the day this illness might beat me and mum ends up in care, something she always feared. Well mum has woken from her nap and is asking what day it is, so here we go tea or something else, ASDA this afternoon mum............
Keep your chin up. Worst things happened on the way to China my old mum would have said.
My Mum's the same, @manic. It used to make me angry but I'm slowly learning to cope with it. There's no point in trying to explain anything to PWD or tell them not to keep asking. It all goes in one ear and out the other. As Whisperer said, distraction is the best defence. You can turn the dementia to your advantage. It feels cruel or dishonest at first but you soon learn that it's the only way that works. You're not deceiving your Mum, you're deceiving the illness that has control of your Mum.
"Where's Dad?" (My Dad - he died years ago.) "Oh, he's not due home yet. What do you fancy for dinner?"
It usually works. And it can be comforting to see her worried face turn into a happy one at the thought of dinner. You just have to focus on the good bits!
Thank you all for your replies. Sorrry it’s taken me so long to respond. The questions are still going strong. Mother knows something is wrong and that frightens her, she cannot her thoughts or emotions etc.
Such a devastating illness.
I really feel for you - I know how it can drive you mad.
My FiL would ask the same question over and over - I once counted 35 times in one hour.
As you do when relatively new to it all, we thought there must be an answer - even made a laminated A4 sheet with answers in big, clear, print, so he could keep it with him.
It made no difference,
I know distraction is often advised, and I'm sure it works for some, but I always found it only worked for half a minute - he'd be relentlessly back to the same thing, like a wasp to a jam jar.
The only way I found to cope - sorry if this is no help! - was to make a sort of separate compartment in my head, where I could go on answering nicely, but mechanically. I could not show th slightest irritation, since he was apt to fly into terrible rages.
I think Witzend coped in a similar way to me. I looked at the endless answering of the same question like a conveyer belt. I was tasked with putting in a small cog into a bigger machine and that's all I did. It didn't matter what happened to make the cog and it didn't matter what happened to the machine once it had left my hands so I couldn't go back and couldn't move on: my job was to put in that cog. After a while I could put that cog in without a thought and with no emotional tie to it. It got me through and it got mum through (though I wish I had got to the bottom of the question of where the dog was - as far as I was aware she had never had a dog in her life... though once it 'lived' with us, it had all sorts of adventures to explain where it was, it went to Disneyland once). Black humour got me through it.
The best way I have found for explaining this to relatives/visitors is to liken it to an earworm where we get a line from a jingle or song stuck in our head and can't shift it and if we do it gets replaced sometimes by a more annoying one.
For all I know it may be just as annoying to my pwd but she can't do anything about it either
It is really hard to cope with, but I used to try to imagine what it must be like for the PWD, being vaguely aware that something's wrong, that they can't remember things etc and how important it would be for them to get some reassurance that everything is OK and they don't need to worry (not exactly true, but nothing that can be helped). It doesn't stop the endless questions, but sometimes makes you mind them a little bit less.