My mother repeats the same phrase over and over again. Is this a sign of dementia?

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When my mother gets agitated, she repeats the same phrase over and over again non-stop (like help me, help me, help me; or I need a drink of water, I need a drink of water, I need a drink of water). She does this when I'm in another room and doesn't stop until I come into the same room with her. Has anyone else experienced this with their parent? She has trouble hearing, so even if I call out to her before I can get to her, it doesn't do any good since she can't hear me.

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Yes, this has been going on with my dad for quite some time. The current phrase is "oh my god"... over and over and over. When you ask what's wrong or if he needs something he says it's the only thing he knows how to say. Could be worse things I guess.... We can try and distract with walking or a snack but as soon as that is over... it starts right back.
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Yes repeating questions or phrases over and over is definitely a sign of dementia/and or Alzheimer's. I am an in-home caregiver and have cared for several persons with these conditions.
I noticed that the repetition behavior would often occur during times of emotional stress . Family tensions, social interactions and even boredom seemed to trigger repetitive verbal behavior. I told one of my clients that I had discovered a "button" on her body which, when I pressed it, played a recording that always said the same thing. This is because when I bathed her she would invariably begin to say , practically verbatim!, the same few phrases over and over again. And at about the same point in the bathing process.
This same client would also continue making a demand until someone (usually a family member) would provide her with what she was demanding. Although I could see that they were "enabling" her I was also sympathetic to their plight. I would try diverting her attention with a variety of ploys, and it would work for a while and then she would be right back to the subject she had been repeating earlier. I was of the opinion she needed either more or less or a different medication. She has since gone into a "rehab" facility more or less on a permanent basis. I visited her there recently and noted that she was still exhibiting the same behavior---repeatedly returning to repeating a demand "(I need my depends changed" --and it had been changed) So, long story short, I am still in the dark as to what causes this behavior and whether some or all of it can ever be controlled.
Another client repeats a question over and over even after it has been answered.
It's interesting how the question is remembered in its entirety but the answer received is forgotten so quickly. Apparently the mind has different processing areas for when we question and when we passively take some thing in.
I am endlessly fascinated with trying to determine what the trigger is behind the question itself, what makes it so important to the person that they are invested in asking it again and again?
In my opinion these conditions of the brain and the research involved in searching for treatment, causes and cures is one of the most fascinating endeavors currently facing the medical community. Apparently also one of the most challenging (and frustrating and patience-testing) problems the intellectual scientific/medical field has faced.
He human brain---the final frontier! It appears we know infinitely more about every other field of scientific study than we know about the human brain. And yet, unlock the secrets of the brain and you unlock the secrets of the universe.
Maybe our focus on everything else is more intense because our eyes are located in front of the brain lol.
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Hi Dianne1.........I really relate to what Flowgo and JeanneGibbs said. During a hospital stay for a bad urinary track infection, my 95 yr old mom was put on Ativan and then Trazodone, and shortly after that she began to call out 'fire, fire' or 'police, call the police, police'. They (in Hospital and then in Rehab facility) told me they put her on these drugs to stop this behavior, but I now believe it made it worse and she should have been weaned off these meds, once the UTI was cleared up. About a week before she passed in 4/09, they began giving her Depakote as well. I just wish I knew then what I know now. Every elderly person is different and whether it's Alzheimer's, vascular dementia or another type of dementia, each patient's care and treatment needs to be customized to what works for them. Ex: my dad who has AD was way more agitated on Serequel; however, it worked great in calming down my neighbor's Mom who had mild dementia, but a lot of other medical problems. Anything from pain, an upset stomach or digestive tract to meds, anxiety or the confusion brought on by dementia could be causing her to repeat or call out. I hope you're able to figure out the cause or at the very least a way to ease her agitation. Please keep us posted.
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Hi dianne1 .... my mom does exactly the same thing and just like you said ... it is usually when I am out of the room (but also sometimes when I am in the same room reading or doing something other than paying attention to her). Her phrase is ... Oooohhh Boy! Oooohh Boy! over and over again 100s of times a day. I always reply "Oooohhh Girl!" and then she laughs at me and usually stops for a short time. My mom does have dementia.
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Most people have things that comfort them in a special way when they are upset, afraid, or depressed.My father had routines that he wanted followed that made him feel more comfortable. While he was ill, he wanted me to brush his hair, clean his trach, and clean his hands well even though the nurses had already done so. He became calm after that. I wonder if there is a pattern to when your mother repeats her phrases? My father had similar behaviors after his first stroke ,and I was told it was linked to his language functioning. My dad's concerns were around my mother's care at first and then moved to the things that worried him. I hope your doctors can help you. Many doctors move in and out so quickly that we forget some of what we need to tell them. I found that if I kept a calendar log and shared it with my father's doctors and my son's doctors, they paid attention. Hang in there. Your mother is blessed to have you in her life. RLP
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my dad does that . help me oh plz help me waaaa oh plz help me help me waaaaa . over and over . yep that is dementia .
sounds like a broken record . over and over and over again .....
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my grandmother did that after having TIA's.
Help me, help me, help me.
and
my shoes are slick, my shoes are slick...I guess afraid of falling (she had broke a hip years before) but was bedridden at this time.
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flowgo, you are right. Some pills, especially pills for the brian, make symptoms worse or initiate new symptoms. You definitely want a doctor who knows what he or she is doing when it comes to prescribing these kinds of drugs. A geriatric psychiatrist or a neuroloigst who specializes in dementia are good bets.

But don't throw the baby out with the bath water! Pills can be very effective and greatly improve quality of life for the elderly, too. Without seroquel my husband with dementia would simply not be able to continue living at home, as he has for these last 8 years. That is no exaggeration, it is a simple fact. I was on the verge of placing him the first year, when that drug gave us a little miracle. On the other hand, I know of other people with his disease who have tried it without success. One size does not fit all!

It is not a matter of "believing" in drugs like that ... it is a matter of what works.
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If this problem started after the doctor started her on haldol, adivan, searaquel etc then it could be that it is bothering her. I just do not believe in those kind of drugs for mature people. It just seems to make them worse.
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Hi dianne1,
There is a article written by an AgingCare.com Editor that was already posted in our community. We thought this might answer your caregiving question.

What To Do When a Parent Repeats the Same Things Over and Over
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/elders-repeating-the-same-story-146023.htm

We hope this helps. Please let us know if you need anything else and we look forward to seeing more questions and discussions from you.

Thank you,
Karie H.
The AgingCare.com Team
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