• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can be found in our area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

How to handle repetitive questions

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
8
0
Hi,

My father has been in a care home for over 18m, and due to Covid I have only seen him once in the last year. He uses a tablet to call me on a daily basis, sometimes 3-4x a day.

For the past few months, the conversations have become frustratingly repetitive to the point I sometimes ignore the call, and then feel guilty as I am his only contact with the outside world.

He has it in his head that he either owns, or has recently bought, multiple properties, and his opening question to me is always about this issue, even though it isn't true. I have tried reassuring him he hasn't bought anything recently, but trying to be logical (i.e. it is mentally/physically impossible for him to have done this) obviously upsets him, if I say I'll deal with it I get the same question the next day, and even if I manage to temporarily change the subject he will go back to it after 1-2 minutes + be annoyed with me when I ask to talk about something else.

I'm struggling to hide my frustration and can't work out what the real issue is. I thought it might be that he just wants someone to talk to, but we're now at a point where calls frequently end with one or both of us feeling agitated.

Do I need to accept this is just his way of communicating and go along with it, or should I be doing something different?

Thank you.
 

nae sporran

Volunteer Host
Oct 29, 2014
7,759
0
Bristol
Frustrating and hard though it can be some days, maybe even most days, the best advice is to go with the flow. MY partner is convinced her father made her and everyone in the family immune to the Covid virus. He died before I was born and when she was only 14 so that makes no sense. I learned to just let it go. I accept that even going with the flow does nothing to stop the same old same old the next day, but it does make life easier on the day. Sorry conversation with your dad is becoming so hard.
https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/threads/compassionate-communication-with-the-memory-impaired.30801/ gives some good ideas that hopefully will make life less stressful for you both.
 

Gerikay

New member
Jan 13, 2021
3
0
My mom is in the early/middle stages of dementia, I was with her for 2 hours last week and she asked me the same thing about 5 times. I work in the medical field and I have worked with Dementia patients. I am very patient with her and keep answering the same questions over. I have found that if you go with the flow and agree with them they usually stop asking about it. I had a patient that was constantly looking for his car. I told him his car is in the shop. and he stopped asking about it. I understand this is a lie, but if it calms hims down and the lie is not hurting him, i see no reason to not do it.
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,965
0
67
Toronto, Canada
For me, the easiest way was to try and answer repeated questions as if it were the first time I was hearing them. It (usually) helped me to keep a positive tone of voice for my mother. This in turn helped (sometimes) to calm her.
 

Miss Elli

Registered User
Apr 9, 2020
47
0
I really do sympathise, right now I'm ignoring calls from my Mum as I know she will be telling me she has lost her dog and no-one is helping her to look for her.

Unfortunately Mum's dog died 2 months ago and it doesn't seem to matter what we do (believe me we've tried everything) Mum is always searching and asking where her dog is.

At first I was upset and full of remorse for Mum and her dog but I've now had to break the news to Mum so many, many times I think I have become numb. Tonight I'm choosing to ignore the calls I'm just not in the mood and I can't do it and I believe it's OK to be like that sometimes, you are allowed to get frustrated. Some days it will be easier to go with the flow and when you know you aren't in the mood to do that allow yourself not to be there for them.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
1,389
0
High Peak
Can I just say, you're not alone in feeling frustrated over the repeated questions and dreading the next one. It's like some form of torture! My mum's fave was, 'So have you had a nice Christmas?' I was asked several times, every visit for about 3 years. TBH I could have cheerfully strangled her. :rolleyes:
 

Dimpsy

Registered User
Sep 2, 2019
1,780
0
I used to go into automatic mode; one ear and half my brain was listening to the same question on repeat and I would answer mum patiently, the other part of my brain was thinking what shall we have for dinner. Or I would sew, knit, anything to distract myself and not get stressed with the bombardment of questions.

Frustrating though it is now for you, the time will come when you realise dad has declined and gone through that stage.
 
Last edited:

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
73,184
0
Kent
Hi,

My father has been in a care home for over 18m, and due to Covid I have only seen him once in the last year. He uses a tablet to call me on a daily basis, sometimes 3-4x a day.

I understand it seems intrusive and frustrating, my mother phoned me at all times of the day and night and if I didn`t answer if I was at work, she would phone the police.

The content of the phone calls is more worrying. There is a level of anxiety and delusion which might be helped by medication.
I suggest you ask the care home to seek medical advice.
 

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
8
0
I understand it seems intrusive and frustrating, my mother phoned me at all times of the day and night and if I didn`t answer if I was at work, she would phone the police.

The content of the phone calls is more worrying. There is a level of anxiety and delusion which might be helped by medication.
I suggest you ask the care home to seek medical advice.
I'm relieved then that no emergency services have been called as a result of me not answering! I do get calls at odd hours though.

The point about delusions/anxiety is not something I had considered, but my attempts to placate are really not working. I do partially understand where his confusion comes from because he used to work in building control so housing was a big part of his life + the obvious nervousness about not being at home. I will speak to the care home.
 

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
1,216
0
Newcastle
I don't have personal experience of this @GMH24 as my wife lost the ability to make or answer phone calls before she moved into care. One thing strikes me though. It is not really necessary to answer the phone just because your father (or anyone) calls. If you can start to limit the number of phone conversations that you have there is a chance that he will stop ringing so often. It may be a slim hope but, combined with a limit on how long you let each call last, this might help both of you to get past this frustrating period. It will not stop the repetitions but may reduce how often you have to engage in answering questions that have no basis in reality. I hope that this helps.
 

Buckles

Registered User
Oct 4, 2020
25
0
Hi

My main strategy is just never to argue, it will only prolong the conversation that is driving you insane and cause distress in the person who is completely convinced of their story. I listen, agree, and suggest that how about we sort it after 'X' - after we've had a seat and chat/watched this movie, any form of distraction with other topics.

Do not feel bad about not answering every call, sometimes you just need to have some time that is not entirely dominated by dementia and that's completely understandable. I say this knowing that I do the exact same thing and feel the exact same way when I do.
 

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
8
0
I don't have personal experience of this @GMH24 as my wife lost the ability to make or answer phone calls before she moved into care. One thing strikes me though. It is not really necessary to answer the phone just because your father (or anyone) calls. If you can start to limit the number of phone conversations that you have there is a chance that he will stop ringing so often. It may be a slim hope but, combined with a limit on how long you let each call last, this might help both of you to get past this frustrating period. It will not stop the repetitions but may reduce how often you have to engage in answering questions that have no basis in reality. I hope that this helps.
Thank you - you are right, I will try answering less and hanging up sooner when we get into a loop.

My answering is partly reflexive as he before he went into care most phone calls were a legitimate emergency (e.g. had to go to hospital, was lost, bank machine ate his card etc.) Now he is in a care home, I really need to remind myself that if it was a true emergency it would be the carers calling me from a different number, not him!
 

Staff online

Forum statistics

Threads
119,145
Messages
1,744,799
Members
69,998
Latest member
Nikki-noo