Is there a way to get my husband who has dementia, to stop talking about a topic from 35 years ago?


He rehashes it over and over. hard for both.

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My mom passed away at 92. But for several years before her passing her dementia, coupled with her just plain meaness personality had her re-hashing every bad thing she could think of. My sister & I (we are in our 60s) - who were devoted to our parents - were subjected to her anger over mistakes we made 40+ years ago.

We often did what we called "rattling the keys" - you know...when a baby is fussing and you rattle your ring of keys to distract the little sweetie & stop the crying? We'd "rattle the keys" at Mom - distract her with something totally off subject,,,asking her about something pleasant... asking about her wedding to our Dad or about her painting or even just asking what she'd like for dinner or one of the framed family photos on the table. Distract, distract, distract.

I'd also try "active listening" - smiling & nodding my head in agreement, but going to the beach in my head until the rant was over....Hey - it's a part of aging and there's no point in allowing stuff to raise your blood pressure.

End of story is that we made it through. Was able not to blow a fuse and Mom was able to vent in the only way she knew how.
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Karen, at some stages, the repeating of things seems to be endless. Unfortunately, there's really no way to stop them from doing it, except of course, distraction, changing the subject, keeping him busy with some kind of busy work, playing music, etc. If he also seems to be overly anxious, I'd discuss it with his doctor. Medication might help, if he suffers from anxiety and the anxiety is promoting the obsession with something.

I will say that the repeating with my LO eventually stopped. She barely says anything now. While you are dealing with the repeating, I'd keep in mind that he does not know that he is doing it and telling him he's doing it, will just make him feel bad, since, he can't remember it.

Make sure to get yourself regular respite time. Being with the repeating long term can really play a number with your mind.

Once my LO and I were in the ER due to her sustaining a fracture and they had to do X-Ray and MRI, so we were there for many hours. Almost the entire day my LO (cousin) said, I love you, over and over. Of course, I had to say, I love you, too. So, those words were repeated over and over for at least 8 hours. I almost lost it. lol
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Dear Karen,

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I know its not easy being a caregiver. You are doing the best you can for your husband. But remember to look out for yourself as well. If you want to consider talking to a counselor, family therapist or joining a support group. There are so many resources in the community. Or consider getting some respite care as well.
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I just found this group yesterday. Thank you SO SO much.
Very difficult adjustment for me- 68 and my husband - 82.
My stress is not doing either of us ant good.
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People with dementia can get stuck in a loop on certain subjects. My mother forgets everything I want her to remember and remembers everything I want her to forget. I don't know if there is anything we can do to get them out of a loop. We can only decide how we'll respond -- listening, putting our brains in "mute" mode, walking away, or trying to distract. I use an assortment of these things.

In my mother's case the loops she gets caught in are attempts to explain her symptoms. It is easier to think we need work on the floors and foundation than to think her legs don't work so well anymore. I guess you could say it is trying to reassure herself that she is okay. It's just other things that aren't.

What was it in the event from 35 years ago that bothers your husband? My mother retells things from her childhood that she enjoyed. I could almost say these memories verbatim along with her. She uses the same words each time.
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Distraction is the best approach. Once he starts on the subject, turn on the TV to a station that you know he enjoys watching. Or get out a photo album. Find something.

I can understand how tiresome it can be to hear the same topic over and over again, especially one that is no longer very interesting.
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