My wife has dementia

Dear Shanna,

My wife has dementia; I do not feel I am ready to move her to a memory care home at this point. I can cope with most unusual behavior resulting from dementia, except for her repetitive asking the same question; no matter how many times I answer, she does not retain what I say. Do you have any advice that will help me deal with when she repeats the same question over and over again?

Brad of Woodburn

Brad, I am so glad you asked this question, as it is one that many caregivers of people with dementia find a struggle. Often the repetitive question can occur because your wife is anxious, afraid, or uncomfortable. You probably know her better than anyone else and may be able to work out what she is feeling, one of those emotions. Keeping your tone calm and trying not to get frustrated or show anger will help you better deal with her needs.

You cannot change your wife’s need for security when she repeatedly asks the same question, but you can change your answer by posing a question to her.

For instance, if she is asking what “What is for Dinner.” You may tell her what it is the first time she asks, and then the next time, you might ask her a question related to what she is asking, like what would you like for dinner or what was your favorite thing to cook for dinner. You may ask her if she remembers the first time you took her out to dinner and then start questions about her answers. If she cannot recall that time in her life, you can prompt her with your memories. People with dementia can often recall long-term memories more easily than short-term memories; you are more successful when you redirect by asking questions from the past.

The main thing for you is to look after yourself; if you do not find ways to support yourself, you cannot support your wife.

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