Hello- I have posted questions on this site before and I find the answers to be both informative and Thanks!

Here is my next dilemma:

Mom is 77 with Dementia. Very alert and very sociable. Loves to chat. But, does not remember one thought from another within a 5 min. period. Often tells the same story over and over like it's her first time telling it.

Q: How do we react? Do we pretend that it is our first time hearing it or do we correct her and let her know that she is telling the same story for the 4th time this hour?

Next situation: Mom will call on the phone with a question or an issue. She might be stressed about something. We spend about 15 minutes on the phone assuring her all is taken care of (bill paid, home maintenance issue taken care of, etc). But, she can't seem to commit it to memory. After 15 minutes and calming her down, she will call back 20 minutes later with the same issue. No recollection of the previous phone conversations.

Q: Do we just continue to have the same phone conversation over and over throughout the day? How do we get her to commit the point to memory (we have convinced her to write it down, but sometimes she does not). Unfortunately, we have had to stop taking the call knowing that by tomorrow morning, the thought will be gone. At times, she will get angry that we are not taking her calls....even though we have talked to her 5 times already today about the same issues.

Just not sure what the proper approach is with the repeats. Thanks for any advice

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I think the proper approach is whatever you can manage without being driven to drink.

Of course you don't want to make your mother annoyed or frightened by not taking her calls. But you have to be fair to yourself; and it is worth bearing in mind that just as she can't retain the information, she won't either retain her annoyance at getting the voicemail message.

With the anecdotes, just join in as enthusiastically as you can; and try chipping in the odd question to see if you can divert her along a tangent.
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anonymous903302 May 3, 2019

OMG. You are my BFF for the day. Because what you said is so true.

I hope that the OP reads your reply.

Sometimes I have a "bad" phone call with my mother, and then I feel terrible, and don't sleep.....and the next day I call, or she calls, and she doesn't remember the "bad" phone call.
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Also, like LuvingSon said...the flow. Just go with it. It's like ocean waves. You can jump over them, go under them, stand there and go right through them. Or jump on a raft and float over them. But control or change them? Um, no. Not possible, just like dementia. It is what it is, and we all deal with it the best we can.
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mikeschoice May 6, 2019
You are so correct.
One of our healthcare advisers showed me my husband’s brain scans and pointed out the areas that were being destroyed pretty systematically - by biotoxins or molds or nutritional snafus or lack of brain exercise, etc. He explained the function of exactly those parts I could see were deteriorated and it really helped me de-personalize things.

Examples: “This is the part of his brain that was able to make plans and execute them. You can see it’s shrunk a lot. This is the part that turns thoughts into words. Shrunken, too. This is the part that determines threat level — it no longer knows how to move from “I’m scared” to “Oh, that’s not anything scary - that’s my wife trying to help me.” Here’s the part that moves something from short- to long-term memory. You can see it is no longer functioning, hence the constant repetitions.”

So now I’m often (working on usually) able to interrupt my knee-jerk irritation by reminding myself, “oh yeah, that’s because the brain cells that know about that are no longer available.” Something about the specificity and the physical visibility of the damage was very freeing for me.
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The proper approach is whatever works at that moment. We don't correct my Mom, we just go with it, and patience, patience, patience. Easy to say, and I get the repetition can be quite taxing! But, they can't help it and dementia can be frustrating and confusing for them, and us. My mom isn't really frustrated by her situation because she thinks she is fine and doesn't realize how extensive her memory is impaired, which I actually see as a blessing. Maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss. It is for her and I am thankful for that.

And, my suggestion, if she calls you 20 minutes after the last call and doesn't remember the previous call? Just keep in mind, it's apparently new to her. All over again! Just may be best to go with it, like it's the first time, because in her mind it is the first time.

This may sound odd, but sometimes I think about some of the shenanigans that I pulled as a kid and how when I look back, my parents must have wondered? Oh my, where did we go wrong? Luckily, I kinda think I turned out ok, thanks to them and their patience and understanding, and now take care of my Mom. They were patient with me, and now I try my best to be with her.
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Re: Repeated stories — yep, this is all new to you. Every. Time. You might try asking questions to lead you Mom down a different thought path. Ex: She’s telling you the story of a family wedding for the nth time this week. Ask her about other people who were there. Whatever happened to Uncle Bob? Did he ever get married? It probably won’t keep her from bringing up the original story again, but it will make things more interesting for you. Don’t even bother trying to correct her. She’s beyond it, now.

Re: The phone calls — She’s perseverating. Where does she live? Does she *need* to have access to a phone? Does she live alone? That should change. Is she in AL? Maybe no more phone? It sounds like some of the issues may be anxiety driven. Does her Dr have her on anything for that? You will never get her to commit anything to memory. Stop trying. If by some random quirk something does magically stick, rejoice! But don’t expect it on the regular.
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Wow. I have tremendous sympathy for you because I have the same issues with my mother. I am admitting that I dread visiting her in the nursing home because it's the same questions over and over, and the same conversations we just had the night or day before, and I know that I get visibly frustrated which just makes me feel guilty and like a bad person.

Try to refocus her. My mother still does crossword puzzles, even hard ones, so we now pass the book back and forth and fill in 3 answers each and then confer. Not that she needs my help, but that makes it a shared experience. And, it stops the repetitive questions while we are doing the puzzles. Also, she loves Scrabble. I hate Scrabble, but I play it with her.

When her mind is occupied elsewhere, the questions stop.

Writing things down probably won't work all the time because she wants reassurance, or won't remember that they are written down.

One new idea: I did get a large dry-erase wall calendar, hung it on the wall where she can easily see and reach it, that is designed for a month. She loves it. I write in her appointments and people's birthdays, and I update it every time I visit, and also every month --- meaning to change the dates to the current month. And, she adds things too, sometimes -- nobody can read what she writes, but we don't tell her that. I got one that is also magnetic, with a side space to put stuff, so she can put photos on one side. When I first bought it, she said NO, she did not want it. After 2 months, she was totally on board.

On the phone, if she has the mental capacity, ask her what she watched on tv, or if she wants to know about the news, or just start telling her something that's happening that she used to be interested in. My mother gets a TV guide weekly. Yes, the printed kind. She circles what she wants to watch. At least twice a week, we talk about what's on, and whether she has circled it, etc. That makes her happy.
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EllensOnly Aug 27, 2019
Wow - Some really great ideas and tips.  Thanks for sharing!  My mother loved jigsaw puzzles, so we got the old ones back out and I found a few new ones at tag sales to change things up.  Her oncologist even had a big table in his reception area with a puzzle on it.  She also loved word search puzzles and cooking shows.  When I was there on the weekends as we watched the Food Network we'd talk about what they were cooking or how we would change the recipe.

My mom is 84 (headed for 85). Not very alert and not very social, Guess what? Same problem! When she does chat, she can’t remember the thought from one minute to the next. Will repeat the same thought over and over or ask the same question over and over.

My reaction varies. I can act as if the question, thought, or whatever subject matter was just spoken. Other times I ask the Lord and Jesus to help me. I do the redirect and question along the same lines or totally different. Other times, I would rater run out in the street and get hit by a bus because I'm dealing with two elders and a mentally ill sister. Most times, it is the first two because all I can think is what if this is me later in life.

Now my dad has not been diagnosed (85). But he will call as your mom about a bill that I have just taken him out to pay (taking mind you) before leaving him for the day and you guessed it, he doesn’t remember. You’re going to have me paying late fees blah, blah, blah. We have gone to church together and by the time I’ve made that 40 plus minute drive back home, he swears he has not been to church, a medical appointment, etc.

You can try, but I don’t think writing it out will help. The paper will either get misplaced or it can be right under the nose, and will be forgotten. Tried that for phone numbers, medical appointments, etc. Big old calendar on the wall with notes, big chalk board, and well.

Mom will at times drift far away it seems and I’ll have to do something silly to bring her back. Yesterday potty visit was a challenge as I helped her remember where to grab to help me help her get there safely. Challenge bank head, omg.

The difference between mom and dad is that he is becoming abrasive whereas mom is still a sweetheart. I’m thinking his Citalopram will have to be changed.

This forum helps just knowing you're not alone.

Blessing to you and family!
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our family is in the same predicament. Mom is 92 and has been in nursing home for a year and a half; lucky in that way. In moms' younger years; board games were always played and thankfully, we still do that rather then sitting and just talking. Sometimes, we take a small walk around complex to stir her mind from endless conversations. It is so hard for the family; and I couldn't understand why mom couldn't write down things when conversing on phone; but, she never did that in her lifetime. Last week, mom called one daughter 6 times in a day.
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I think it is up to you; to your patience level. Too soon, this ‘phase’ will pass and you may miss these conversations with your mom.
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I live in assisted living and while I do all I can to stay away from people with dementia, I occasionally do talk with them. When they have told me something already, I immediately nicely tell them that they have already told me this or that many times and I immediately change the topic. They look at me confused but it saves my sanity and gets them to stop repeating. I am going to be 86 but I live life like I did when I was in my 30's and my mind is nearly having a photographic memory. The more I study new things, work at two jobs, and deal with people who are very intelligent and motivating, I am improving my memory skills and am happier. I can't deal with people who have dementia - I go insane. Tell her right off - she already told you or you already told her. Cut it off at once. And do not allow people with dementia to destroy you with their behavior - stop them before that happens and if need be, stay away from them. Tough but necessity if people don't want to go insane. I am known as a good listener and have many friends who truly care about me. They know I will always listen and help them in any way possible. However, I don't have the tolerance for people who repeat things over and over again and will politely stop it at once. I am too highly energetic, motivated and a super achiever and I simply cannot spare the time for this nonsense when I have so much I want to achieve and accomplish daily. If people can handle it, fine - do it. If they can't handle it, do not allow it. We are all different in what we can or can't do.
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Heis80 May 6, 2019
You’re considering no one else but yourself and taking absolutely no care to be loving to any one else that there’s no one else in your world. Rich H.
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