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Dear Miriam,

My tia keeps repeating herself. No matter how many times I answer her questions, she’ll keep asking the same thing over and over again. And when I tell her she already asked me, she seems surprised. To be honest, it gets irritating after a while and I find myself increasingly frustrated with her. Any suggestions on how to handle it?

Gladys

Dear Gladys,

I totally understand your frustration and want you to know it’s perfectly normal to feel that way. Your aunt is repeating herself because of changes in her brain that don’t allow your answers to get locked in, so in her mind, it really is like she’s asking the questions for the first time.

Next time she gets stuck in a repetition loop, try one of the following:

  • Give yourself a limit of how often you’ll answer her. Give yourself permission to take a step back after that.
  • Change the subject or distract her. Redirecting her attention towards something new can break her out of the loop.
  • If there are things in the room that are triggering the repetitive questions, try to move them.
  • Avoid reminding the person they’ve already asked the question.

Most importantly, remember that repetition is a common dementia symptom and they really aren’t doing this to annoy or frustrate you.

Best,
Miriam

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