Repetitive Questions

Written by Phillippa Hodge.

Repetitive Questions

Repetition can be one of the hardest challenges for carers. The constant asking of the same question can drive you to distraction.

With my friend Rosemary, Christmas displays in the shops since September have caused her great anxiety as it triggers a distant feeling of the pressure and expectations that the festive season can bring.

So every two to three minutes I hear the same question: “When is Christmas? When is Christmas?”

At first I answer the question, giving as much reassurance as I can.

“We have plenty of time. It’s not for a few weeks yet. And I will help you get ready. Don’t worry.”

But for someone who feels that she is losing time, it wasn’t really that helpful for Rosemary and even though her answer was:

“Thank you. That’s a weight off my mind.”

Her question popped up again a few minutes later.

It would be easy for me to say, “Now what have we just talked about?”Because there is a need to have a conversation that makes sense, have a purpose and to even correct if necessary.

But the answers don’t have to make too much sense. Or be corrected. They need to make Rosemary feel heard and involved. And once you can shed the social trappings and be able to go with the moment (and practice deep breaths for yourself) you both feel heaps better.

So I tried other things:

Reminiscence: “Tell me about a favourite Christmas”, which lead her away from her anxieties and calmed her.

I started singing Christmas carols, knowing that she loves music and that she will join in, distracting her in a meaningful and respectful way.

We have even started writing Christmas cards early so she feels involved.

So it’s not just about answering the question. It’s about being a detective and focusing on the emotion rather than the behaviour. It’s about looking at things through their eyes and embracing the need for us to make the change.

Phillippa Hodge- Positive Approach to Care Certified Trainer

Trained in 2017 by the international dementia care expert Teepa Snow MS,OTR/L,FAOTA, Phillippa is equipped to provide training to care professionals and families with the goal of helping them grow their dementia related awareness, knowledge and skill in order to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

If you would like to know more about our training please visit our training page.

We are giving away a FREE Exploring Dementia Workshop to a lucky residential or nursing home in Devon or Cornwall. Click here to enter!

Five Successful Conversation Starters That Don’t Rely on Memory

Memory Difficulties are the most common symptom people living with dementia experience. Conversations generally rely on us remembering what has been said just a minute ago to keep the flow which can be tricky and our ‘small talk’ usually relies…

Are Mandalas Good For The Brain?

I wasn’t that long ago that I had become a little obsessed with mandalas. I even attempted to convince Kate (my co-director) that Memory Matters could have a little rebrand and become Mandala Matters instead, with a marvellous mandala logo….

Who’s Driving?

Another great Insight from Memory Matters Trainer Phillippa Hodge through having coffee with her friend who lives with dementia.

My friend dementia. The story of a Memory Matters staff member.

I intended to be a maker of things. Working from a secluded studio, quiet with my materials and thoughts. I was studying a contemporary crafts BA at Plymouth College of Art, working predominately with clay. I love the cool, quiet…

Who’s Behaviour is Challenging Anyway?

Memory Matters’ Trainer Phillippa Hodge tells us about her experience with her friend John and how her willingness to learn how the world may look from his perspective helped those around him to communicate more effectively.

Volunteer Pam Warren gains recognition for all her hard work

This is Pam Warren. She is one of the Kindest and compassionate people we know and we are so lucky to have her on board as a volunteer. Pam works tirelessly, she bakes cakes every week and has done since Memory…