Nothing beats the thrill of visiting a grandparent’s or a loved one’s home. You are guaranteed attention, home-cooked food, and of course, awesome stories from their youthful days. What’s not to love? Of course, you may be noticing that you have heard the same stories or are asked the same questions quite a few times before, and that too in the same visit. If you have been wondering what’s the best way to manage repetitive questions or stories from your loved ones, then you have come to the right place. First, we’ll let you know why they may be repetitive, as that is the first step to understanding. Next, we will take you through the 3 steps to “add” to their stories…but we’ll come to that later, promise!
Why Are Loved Ones So Repetitive?
If you notice that your loved ones are being more repetitive than usual when asking questions or saying the same observation over and over, you might start to panic and think that this might be a symptom of dementia. However, while we certainly cannot rule that out, repetition is common in adults without dementia too. Remember, repetition is not always linked to memory loss! Humans have an innate need to make sense of the world around us. As we experience and learn more from life, we may need an avenue to voice out our thoughts and feelings. This helps us assimilate information and make it useful. After all, there is a reason that repetition is used as a key learning strategy in schools and places of higher education!
Another cause for repetition may be linked to memory loss, this presents in the form of your loved ones asking you about the time of that doctor’s appointment for the umpteenth time. It is important to note that widespread neurological damage has occurred causing their brain cells to be damaged. They certainly don’t mean to irritate, rather repetition is a means for them to consolidate new information.
Now, we’ll give you a simple method to “add” value to their stories. “Add” refers to affirmation, diversion, and deflection which will help you manage the repetitiveness of a loved one. Affirmation means validating the opinions of your loved ones. If they say something seemingly bizarre such as they are commandeering a pirate ship, do we really have to refute that? We make up all sorts of scenarios in our heads and our loved ones are no different! Of course, this method doesn’t always work if the thought is causing them great discomfort. For example, if they mention that their spouse or friend has died, validating it would be even more distressing.
Diversion refers to changing the topic of the conversation after they have mentioned their story a few times. You could even talk about yourself or seek their counsel!
Deflection is about engaging them in another activity like watching the television or playing a board game! If you feel that you need more support, note that memory care is an excellent option for those suffering from more serious forms of repetition.